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VIDEO: The boaters who claim to have called in the Okanagan Centre Fire

At about 4:45 p.m. on Saturday afternoon, Kevin Baitz was out boating on Okanagan Lake when he watched a small fire quickly shoot up the side of the mountain near Carrs Landing.

"It was crazy because we were just driving along enjoying the day and we actually thought it looked like a campfire but we thought, ‘Oh, that person's ignorant," said Baitz.

<who>Photo Credit: KelownaNow</who>

But when they looked closely, they could barely believe what they were seeing.

"I was like, 'Did I really see that?' And then I looked more closely and I just went, ‘The mountain’s on fire and those houses are going to burn. So that’s it, we just flew over there."

They drove over to the West side of the Lake to Okanagan Lake Resort and started shouting for someone on the dock to call 9-1-1.

However, their message was met with a a lack of urgency and so Baitz's son called 9-1-1.

However, that call also wasn't taken seriously at first, he said.

"We had to get mad at him and say, ‘No. It’s not a brush fire. The trees are on fire and there’s houses that are right above them."

Baitz said it took about 45 minutes before they saw the first bomber show up.

They watched the first plane fly over and scout the fire.

Next, a bomber took a shot at dropping the first batch of retardant, however, the drop was a little off centre.

"After the first bomber came, then they started panicking."

<who>Photo Credit: Christle Cook</who>

BC Wildfire said that 11 fixed winged aircraft worked the fire, along with ground crews and one helicopter.

After they called 9-1-1, The family stayed out in the boat filming the fire for a while, and according to Baitz there were several homes lost in the blaze.

"There’s a whole row of houses, probably 20 or 30 and you could see big, black flumes of smoke. And then the wind went up in behind it and started going way down the mountain again."

Baitz said he's not sure how many houses were hit, but that there were 20 to 30 houses along the first row above the fire and they were filling with smoke.

"Right when we left it only looked like there were about four or five houses there left."

<who>Photo Credit: Chris Hill</who>

The winds were so strong on the water their boat was getting swamped by the waves that kept slamming up against the side and filling the boat.

Baitz said it was an eerie and frightening experience to watch the violent flames tear up the mountain so quickly.

But at the same time, it was eerie to return to the West side and watch people playing on the beach, completely oblivious to the raging fire.

"Nobody had even realized it. People were on the dock, playing on the beach. Nobody even knew because we were so far away - it just looked like a little pile of smoke," he said.

Baitz and his family were visiting the Okanagan for the weekend and camping in Vernon.

They are heading back to Kamloops on Sunday.



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