“I haven’t done this before and it’s exceptionally stressful.”
That’s what Painted Rock Estate Winery owner John Skinner had to say as the Christie Mountain fire continues to rage nearby.
He said the work and the speed with which the B.C. Wildfire Service and various fire departments responded to the blaze was impressive, but he and his wife are taking it day by day when it comes to the future of the winery.
Skinner said he saw the fire spark at 2 p.m. on Tuesday (Aug. 18) as he was standing on the front lawn of the tasting room.
“I saw the smoke down towards Heritage Hills, and we’re five kilometres north, but within two hours, those planes were at the ridge above our winery fighting the fire,” he said.
“That was frightening. And given that experience and seeing how fast the fire is, I’m not making any assumptions about the winery right now.”
He said fire crews have been on the ground near the property trying to protect it and dousing smaller fires nearby and that fire retardant had been sprayed in the surrounding area as well.
“A lot of the smoke and flames were moving down Gillis Creek towards us and it was very frightening, and they dealt with it all. And most of that has been pushed at least a kilometre behind us now.”
With the forecasted high winds tomorrow (Aug. 21), Skinner said they’re not sure what to expect.
“I think we’re reasonably well-protected, but honestly, we’ll have to see what happens tomorrow,” he said.
“Crews have done a really good job up until this minute and I’m really impressed with how their talent and ability, but we’re gonna have to see what happens… let’s just hope nature takes it easy on us tomorrow.”
Fortunately, Skinner and his family don’t live in the area and didn’t have to worry about evacuating personal belongings, but still, their business remains at the fire’s edge.
“We bear witness to the fire when we go to the winery to assess the situation and it’s been quite an experience.”