Joe Lebeau/Hashmark Photography Power poles were torn down by high winds on Highway 3 outside of Cawston.

Damage, but no injuries in Keremeos area wind storm

Trees and power poles were down across the Lower Similkameen

  • Jun. 28, 2018 1:23 p.m.

When a 60-year-old fir tree came crashing down on top of the Harker homestead, Sara Harker thought for sure it was an earthquake.

“I thought it was an earthquake because the whole house shook. I woke Troy up saying, ‘I think there was just an earthquake’ and then we came out and I was like ‘what is this mess on the floor?’” she said with a laugh. “Nothing came in through the window, but there was this mess and I looked up and was like, ‘oh, there are branches coming in through the ceiling.”

The giant fir came smashing down on the 104-year-old home around 2:15 a.m. Monday morning during a treacherous windstorm that blew through the valley and parts of the Okanagan.

Unofficial weather station reports from residents in the Cawston area show wind gusts were in excess of 83 kilometres an hour at times during the storm.

The ever resilient family of five took inventory of the damage and storm, then all hopped into the parents room to get some more shuteye before dealing with the necessities of the next day.

An insurance adjustor was expected Tuesday and plans will soon be underway to fix the home.

Harker said a lot of cherries and apples came down during the storm and crop insurance was also creating a claim.

Several other farms in the area also experienced losses of crops because of the storm.

Jordy Bosscha, fire chief for the Keremeos Volunteer Fire Department, said he and the crew had a busy night with storm related calls.

A call came in around 2:15 a.m. when a tree fell down on a power line attached to a home and pulled the meter base out of the wall, starting a small fire on Middlebench Road.

“The homeowner actually got that put out before we arrived but we hung out for awhile to make sure everything was OK. We though Fortis would come but we figured it would be a longtime before they could make it. We checked everything out with a cold/heat gun before we left,” he said.

About 2:30 a.m., while still on the first call, a dispatch came in that a tree had fallen on a home on 2nd Avenue in Keremeos.

“We sent people to make sure the power was good there, no gas or anything was broken. There was no fire there.”

Just about the time some of the firefighters were about to crawl back into bed another call came in at 4:30 a.m. that a large tree had fallen and knocked over power pole lines on Newton Road in Cawston.

“Basically most guys just got back into bed. It was kind of a non-issue but we put some cones up to warn people so they didn’t drive into stuff in the dark,” he said.

At 9 a.m. the fire department was called out again. This time to attend the Similkameen Recreation Centre to check on a gas smell.

“Some people were working out at the gym in the rec centre and they smelled gas and were starting to feel bad,” he said. What we found when we got on the rooftop was a heating cover had come off and severed a gas main and gas was filling up the building,” he said. “You’ve got gas on one side of the unit and electrical power on the other side. We’re fortunate we got that turned off before anything bad happened.”

Bosscha was relieved that the incidents were pretty minor.

“It’s all pretty minor when you consider there were no injuries that we know of. Everything else can be fixed in time,” he said.


Joe Lebeau/Hashmark Photography A tree came down on a home on 2nd Avenue around 3 a.m. No one was injured.

Joe Lebeau/Hashmark Photography Damage to a home on Sparks Drive near Highway 3.

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