Despite the massive Crater Creek Wildfire burning right to its door, Cathedral Lakes Lodge is still standing and appears to have escaped without serious damage.
The lodge was the site where campers and visitors to Cathedral Lake Park gathered after the Crater Creek fire exploded in size on Aug. 15 and they were unable to escape. Fire crews told the staff and visitors to shelter in place until they could clear the only road.
It took until the next day for a convoy to safely evacuate from the lodge. The convoy of 80 people also included staff from the lodge.
The lodge’s fate after that time was unknown, as extremely heavy smoke from the fire blanketed the area, making aerial surveillance impossible.
On Aug. 24, cooler weather and efforts at controlling the blaze allowed crews to get a visual of the lodge for the first time, and it appears to have not been affected by the fire. Other structures were apparently lost to the fire.
A ground investigation will have to be done to confirm the extent of possible damages.
In a post to social media, the lodge thanked BC Wildfire Service and Eclipse Helicopter for adding pumps and sprinklers to the lodge’s existing systems.
“This along, with the clean up and tree removals we have done over the years have saved our beautiful lodge,” reads a part of the post. “The fire burned most of the Lakeview Valley and right up to the doorstep of the lodge property, however, we, unfortunately, have lost our basecamp buildings and equipment and therefore will have to stay closed for the rest of the season.”
A bridge that crosses the Ashnola River to the lodge and park property was also destroyed by the Crater Creek fire.
The fire swelled on Aug. 15, from around 1,000 hectares to more than 10,000 over night and since then it has crossed the U.S. border. It has most recently been estimated to be over 44,000 hectares.
As of press time, heavy equipment was continuing to work on containment lines along the north and northwestern flanks for the fire.
Helicopters were also being deployed to assist and support efforts.
On Friday, Aug. 25, the Regional District of Okanagan Similkameen rescinded the evacuation alerts for more than 110 properties in the Rural Keremeos area.
Those properties included those from 10th Avenue and Highway 3, along the south and west sides of Highway 3 to the Lower Similkameen Indian Band boundary.
It also includes properties from 3175 River Road going west along River Road and north to the Similkameen River to 205 Ashnola Road, properties along the east/north side of Highway 3 from the Lower Similkameen Indian Band boundary up to 4354 Highway 3 and properties past 4354 Highway 3 on both sides of Highway 3 up to but not including 4625 Highway 3.
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