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Finlay Creek wildfire another blow to Peachland tourism

It’s already been a challenging year for some Peachland businesses that cater to tourists. They were hoping this Labour Day weekend would provide a boost before things slow down for winter.

However, the Finlay Creek wildfire flared up southwest of the community on Saturday, placing hundreds on evacuation alert in the Peachland area and putting a damper on local tourism.

“We are noticing that this long weekend, which is usually kind of our big weekend to end the summer, has been pretty quiet,” said Praneil Rai, who owns a restaurant in Peachland.

“Wintertime it really really quiets down. Most of the restaurants, pubs and businesses that are here need… four good months out of summer to kind of carry us through the wintertime….there might be a couple months where we might have to close down this winter.”

It caps off an already difficult summer where businesses faced challenges due to flooding and smoke in the central Okanagan.

More than 300 properties are on evacuation alert due to the Finlay Creek wildfire in the Peachland area alone, meaning they should be ready to leave quickly if needed.

One of those properties is a local zipline attraction. President Kevin Bennett said they can evacuate the park within 15 minutes if needed and he views the alert as precautionary.

The attraction is remaining open as usual.

“We are definitely seeing a little reduction [in business],” Bennett said. “We are very fortunate here that we have a very unique and very special attraction so people are still coming even though conditions might not be optimum.”

On Monday, the fire was uncontained and estimated at 1,500 hectares in size. It’s burning around 7.5 kilometres southwest of Peachland.

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