“I’ll be honest, I’ve been here eleven years, maybe a little bit more. I have never, ever, seen anything like this.”
Cheryl Sturko, the water operator for the area of Heritage Hills, has been running around the clock, checking on water supply and assisting firefighting efforts on the Christie Mountain fire.
“It’s nerve racking, we’ve been here the wee hours of the morning and we would like to see if we get it under control.”
The team is on call twenty four hours a day, to watch the water pump levels and patrol the area.
The wildfire that broke out early Tuesday afternoon started at a few hectares and quickly began growing, prompting the area to be evacuated.
“It’s looking a bit like a war zone. We’ve got helicopters, ground crew all over the place,” Sturko said. “ I was up to Christie and it just looked to me like a little plume of smoke and it just [went] so quickly.”
Constantly monitoring of the different water sites, making sure pressure and intake are kept up with demand are the key.
“The water supply is okay, as much as we’re pouring in is as much as is being taken out. We are working side by side, hand in hand.”
Sturko is also looking for homes using automatic sprinklers, which can take away from firefighters' supply.
“It impedes everything we’re trying to do as well,” Sturko said.
Even with best efforts from all teams, not all homes can be saved from the fire.
The Regional District of Okanagan Similkameen has confirmed Wednesday afternoon that 176 Christie Mountain Lane was lost to the blaze.
But Sturko isn’t losing faith in getting the fire under control and looking after the community.
“I’m here for the duration, we care for the community,” Sturko said. “I think with all of us involved...we’re going to get to the other side of this.”
Lakeshore Waterworks is the utility company owned by Johnny Aantjes, that provides water to all 319 homes in the Heritage Hills area.
It has a capacity to pump 30,000 gallons of water per hour that gets distributed to three separate reservoirs, feeding the homes and fire hydrants in the areas, and Aantjes says all pumps and reservoirs are being maintained to full capacity to help the firefighters in their work.
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