More than 3,000 properties in southeast Penticton are on evacuation alert, with more than 300 homes under evacuation order in Heritage Hill. (Les Clarke)

Penticton mayor, resident speak about evacuation experience

Over 300 properties in the Heritage Hill area are under an evacuation order

Michael and Faye Arcand said they only had about 15 to 20 minutes to gather essential items from their home before they were forced to evacuate from Apple Court, the highest part of Heritage Hill, and find safety somewhere else.

“We first saw the fire around 2 – 2:30 p.m. (on Aug. 18). It’s a place where a lot of people hike up, take motorcycles, bikes, that kind of thing,” he said.

Shortly after that, he said crews came to their neighbourhood and put tapes around the houses. They were then told they had to leave right away.

“We had maybe 15 to 20 minutes to pack up, we probably could’ve taken longer, but we had to go. We came downtown (to the EOC). We tried to get a hotel room, but everything was booked. Some of our friends offered us a place to stay, and we ended up staying with our cousin in Kaleden.”

Despite the rushed departure, he said as long as he and Faye have the essentials, they’ve got everything.

“We’ll wait to see when we can go back. I don’t think it’s going to be today. They’ve got boots on the ground and they’ve started water-bombing already… it’s quite close to our house, so we’ll see,” Michael said.

He added that he is grateful for the efforts of the Regional District of Okanagan-Similkameen (RDOS), the BC Wildfire Service, as well as the firefighters from Penticton and Okanagan Falls.

Mayor of Penticton John Vassilaki shared Michael’s gratitude.

“I want to take a moment to express my sincere appreciation to our fellow local governments who have provided additional firefighters to support the response,” he said in a press conference on Aug. 19 in Penticton.

Vassilaki himself is an evacuee, finding out about the blaze while in council meeting on Tuesday afternoon and much later, finding out his home was under an evacuation order.

“It’s scary. There’s a lot of stuff in our home. My wife and I have been married for almost 51 years, so we have a lot of memories in that house,” he said.

“If we were to lose anything, it’s like losing a part of our life. But we just hope this thing is going to be under control very very soon and that nothing serious happens to anyone.”

He added he wanted to encourage residents not to worry, as the RDOS and the city are working hard to battle the fire.

“We’re doing the best we can, even more than the best we can. We’re constantly in touch with the provincial people to make sure they have enough manpower and equipment in place to try and keep it under control so it doesn’t come within the City of Penticton or even the regional district, trying to keep everybody safe in those areas,” he said.

“To the people who are on evacuation alert, please be ready to move out as fast as possible or at a moment’s notice. We don’t want anybody hurt or to lose any property if we can help it.”

READ MORE: What to do with pets during the Mount Christie wildfire evacuation

READ MORE: Wildfire burning across border with Osoyoos grows to 2,400 hectares


Twila Amato
Video journalist, Black Press Okanagan
Email me at twila.amato@blackpress.ca
Follow me on Twitter

bc wildfires

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

More wildfire smoke to fill the Okanagan

The smoke is coming from wildfires in California but is expected to be much lighter

COLUMN: The effects of proroguing Parliament

Only four hours were allotted for debating $50 billion in deficit spending

Crews to film Hallmark holiday movie in Summerland

The Angel Tree will be community’s third film project in 2020

Penticton RCMP seeking assistance in finding stolen trailer

The trailer was last seen near the Penticton Trade and Convention Centre

Keremeos mountie assaulted by alleged impaired driver

The officer was responding to reports of a collision in Cawston

Orange Shirt Society launches first textbook on residential school history

Phyllis Webstad and Joan Sorley worked on the 156-page book to help educate students

Join Black Press Media and Do Some Good

Pay it Forward program supports local businesses in their community giving

6 puppies rescued in mass seizure on Princeton farm have died of injuries: BC SPCA

Of the 97 distressed horses, cats and dogs seized, most of the puppies suffered from parvo

Action demanded over death of First Nations youth in Abbotsford group home

Family and Indigenous organizations push for thorough investigation

Okanagan man accused of attacking two young boys back in court

Brian Lamb will remain behind bars until at least Oct. 14

U.S. boater fined $1,000 for violation of Quarantine Act

49-year-old man entered Canada to visit girlfriend in Surrey

Revelstoke source of clue on Jeopardy

The prompt challenged knowledge of both art and wildlife in the area

North Okanagan Literacy Society raises readers

Raise-A-Reader campaign benefits local group’s community programs

More sex abuse charges laid against B.C. man who went by ‘Doctor Ray Gaglardi’

Investigators now focussing efforts on alleged victims within the Glad Tidings Church community

Most Read