Calgarians with vacation homes in B.C. on edge as wildfires rage

CALGARY — Allison Grafton said she watched the Mount Law wildfire, directly across the lake from her Kelowna home grow quickly Sunday night.

“Within the next four to five hours that fire grew into a raging fire. That whole mountain looked to be on fire from our standpoint right across the lake,” said Calgarian Allison Grafton.

She added that it’s been unsettling watching conditions change drastically in the Okanagan Valley.

“What’s blown me away this summer (is) how quickly these fires rage and how fast they come up and Sunday night was a really good scary example of that.”

Grafton said it’s been frightening to know so many people around the area have been told to leave their homes while many homes have been destroyed.

Grafton said they aren’t only worried for their property or their neighbours. Grafton is the president and founder of Rockwood Custom Homes. The Calgary-based company also builds in B.C. and many of their clients’ homes are under construction.

“We’re watching everything going on because we’re protecting our sites as well,” Grafton said, “(Asking things like) is there a fire close? Are there embers? Which way is the wind going?”

“Everybody is very focused on making sure safety is number one.”

Grafton said the fires have added an extra level of stress for all business owners in the area. She is thankful to all the fire fighters and crews working hard to battle the flames.

Officials said as of Tuesday afternoon, there were 263 active wildfires in B.C.

Rain that started falling Monday has brought some relief but officials said the impact will be short-lived and the danger is extremely serious.

With just weeks left in the summer vacation season for many Albertans, Emergency Management B.C. is asking travellers to stay away from some regions in B.C.’s interior.

“We’re encouraging tourists to travel to areas that are not impacted by wildfire. Most of B.C. is smoke free and not impacted by evacuation orders or alerts and we’re encouraging people to choose those areas to travel to,” said Brendan Ralfs, emergency management B.C.

Grafton is not under an evacuation alert as of Tuesday, but she said they are watching for updates.

“Every single area is experiencing something different based on weather and wind. I would say right now where I am its safe. It wasn’t safe Sunday night, its safe now,” said Grafton.

Grafton said she is planning to fly back to Calgary next week.

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