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B.C. firefighter without home 9 months after West Kelowna wildfire


It's been nine months since a massive wildfire erupted near West Kelowna.

The McDougall Creek wildfire burned through dozens of properties, including Arturo Peralta’s home.

The Wilson’s Landing volunteer firefighter watched as his house went up in flames as he worked to contain the blaze.

Nine months later, he still remains without a home.

“When the fire was happening, every politician came to the meetings and said, ‘We will help, we will make it easier for you, we will expedite the permits, we will expedite the processes,’” he said. “That has not happened.”

He and his wife went to Mexico for the winter. But when they returned this spring, they decided to put their RV on their property as a makeshift home at Lake Okanagan Resort.

"I told the strata many moons ago that as soon as I was coming back to Canada I needed to live in the resort because I didn't have the funds to do it any other way,” he said.

He has since had a porta-potty installed and hauls water in weekly. But on Thursday, he received a call from his fire chief, who said his temporary accommodations weren’t accepted by everyone within his neighbourhood.

"He called me up and he says, 'Art, I we received this phone call from the (regional district) and they're telling me that they're going to remove you from the resort in 24 hours," Peralta said.

There are 22 lots on the property; only three homes survived last summer’s blaze.

Peralta says he was confronted by one of those homeowners earlier in the week who was upset he wasn’t following bylaws that prohibit his parked trailer.

CTV News reached out to the Regional District of Central Okanagan, which confirmed it received a complaint and that its fire chief did contact the owner. But the district's message to CTV News was different than what Peralta had heard.

“The goal of our bylaw enforcement program is voluntary compliance, beginning with education, and we will be working with the individual to gain compliance. There is no intention of towing the RV,” The RDCO said in statement.

“We also know that recovery for the homeowners within Lake Okanagan Resort is challenging because of the extent of the damage to private electric, water and wastewater infrastructure,” the statement continued.

According to Peralta, the strata will vote Thursday to decide if they should rebuild or accept the insurance payout, which would amount to roughly $350,000.

He calls the amount disappointing and a far cry from what he paid for his property.

He’s hoping to rebuild instead.

"We contacted the RDCO, we're trying to get answers to see if we can get rebuilt, and the amount of red tape and hurdles that we're having to jump, are too many,” said Peralta.

He continues to pay property taxes, strata fees and insurance in the meantime.

On top of what he calls a "nightmare," the firefighter’s cancer has returned.

"I'm running out of answers, I'm running out of options, so I'm doing something with my property," he said. Top Stories

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