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

Environment Canada has issued a snow warning for the Kootenays on Friday. File photo
Environment Canada issues snow warning for Friday

Two-to-10 centimetres is expected to fall

File photo
EDITORIAL: The power of a single vote

In the Oct. 24 British Columbia election, every vote is important

RCMP stock photo (Black Press)
Kelowna RCMP investigating unexplained death of cattle

Cattle found dead near gravel road, east of the Kelowna Airport

The Freeride World Tour will be back in Golden for the fourth year in a row, with athletes coming from across the world to ski at Kicking Horse. (Jeremy Bernard Photography/Kicking Horse Mountain Resort/Instagram photo)
Freeride World Tour to return to Golden

The tour will have a modified championship format in it’s fourth annual stop at Kicking Horse

Provincial health officer Dr. Bonnie Henry presents modelling of COVID-19 spread in B.C., March 25, 2020. (B.C. government photo)
B.C. sets another COVID-19 record with 203 new cases

up to 1,766 active cases in B.C., two more deaths

(Kelowna Capital News)
B.C. Labour Board orders Peachland cannabis company to reinstate laid-off employees

The B.C. Labour Relations Board determined the employees were laid off due to their plan to unionize

RCMP. (Phil McLachlan - Black Press Media)
British Columbia man dies during ski trip near glacier west of Calgary

Kananaskis Public Safety and Alpine Helicopters responded around 2:30 p.m.

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau arrives on Parliament Hill in Ottawa on Monday, Oct. 19, 2020, following a week-long break for the House of Commons. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Sean Kilpatrick
One crisis after another for Trudeau since last federal election one year ago

It has been a year of unprecedented calamity and crisis

Curtis Sagmoen
Public warning issued to North Okanagan sex trade workers

RCMP warns workers to stay away from Salmon River Road area

Two pigs roam the Salmon Arm Walmart parking lot during a prior visit photographed by Danielle Burgi. (Danielle Burgi photo)
Pigs trot over for a visit at Salmon Arm shopping centre

Employees say this was the second drop-in from the temporarily free-range porkers

Join Black Press Media and Do Some Good

Pay it Forward program supports local businesses in their community giving

Penticton law courts. (Black Press file)
Osoyoos man in court for alleged shooting

The Oct. 11 shooting left a man with non-life threatening injuries

Most Read