Mission Hill Winery re-opens after wildfire forces evacuation
A popular West Kelowna winery re-opened Sunday morning after a wildfire burning dangerously close forced it to be evacuated Saturday evening.
The grass fire sparked up just after 7 p.m. on Mount Boucherie and quickly spread due to high winds and dry conditions. Several witnesses posted photos of the smoke and flames below the Mission Hill Winery.
Ian Galbraith, communications director for the winery, said the estate was evacuated as a precautionary measure.
"We greatly appreciate the efforts of the first responders who now have the situation under control," he said in a statement to CTV News. "Mission Hill will be open for business on Sunday, May 27th as per usual."
Jason Brolund, the West Kelowna Fire Chief, said about 50 homes were evacuated as firefighters established a perimeter around the blaze. Air support was called in from Penticton, and Brolund said it was useful for seeing the fire from above to know about useful breaks.
"As is typical on these warm Okanagan evenings, the wind blew the fire quickly up the hill towards Mission Hill Winery," Brolund said. "We've done our best to protect the winery, but also and the homes on the other side of the ridge."
Heidi McLaughlin, who lives up the hill near the winery, was one of the evacuees forced to leave her home because of the fire.
"I came home from supper and went to go home and police have blocked off our whole subdivision," she said. "And I was told I can't go home because everyone's being evacuated."
Eventually, the roughly 40 firefighters made progress and brought the blaze under control.
Evacuees were able to return home around 11 p.m. and firefighters stayed overnight to monitor the fire for flare-ups. Luckily, no structures were damaged and no injuries were reported.
The cause of the fire is still under investigation.
Forest fire below Mission Hill winery in West Kelowna, many homes threatened by carelessness. Let’s not forget it is forest fire season. West Kelowna and Kelowna fire and police resources on the scene pic.twitter.com/gZxnZ5bmvV— Ben Stewart (@benstewartbc) May 27, 2018