Snowmaking guns at the Apex Mountain ski resort near Penticton are primed and ready if needed to fight the Keremeos Creek wildfire.
Apex Mountain Resort general manager James Shalman said they are currently laying down their snowmaking guns in strategic locations and are ready to go if the fire nears the ski village.
“The snow making machines can shoot water 150 feet and they oscillate,” said Shalman. “They can put out a large amount of moisture in the air.”
Shalman has been at the Apex village since 6 a.m. on Sunday (July 31) getting everything prepared.
“Currently, we are beautiful blue skies but if the wind changes it’s a whole different story,” he said.
The entire Apex Mountain village and surrounding areas were put on evacuation alert on Saturday night after the Keremeos Creek fire showed aggressive fire behaviour in that direction.
Over 350 properties are on alert to evacuate at a moment’s notice.
BC Wildfire Service estimate the blaze is about 21 kilometres southwest of Penticton, but only about five kilkometres southeast of the ski resort.
Using the snowmaking machines to fight fires has been in Apex’s fire prevention plans for years.
“There are very few mountains like ours that have snowmaking machines that go from the top of the mountain to the bottom,” said Shalman. “That means we can cover a lot of area.”
The Keremeos Creek fire is burning out of control at around 440 hectares in size. Luckily, the wildfire saw minimal growth overnight Sunday.
However, more properties were put on evacuation order Saturday night.
Ten firefighters conducted patrols and structural protection where necessary throughout the night, said BC Wildfire Service information officer Ayden Corey.
“Low visibility is currently presenting challenges for aerial support resources. One helicopter is currently on site, with three additional helicopters available once visibility improves,” Corey added.
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