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Evacuation order ruins wedding plans for Coquitlam couple

Last Updated Jul 20, 2018 at 7:05 am PDT


Tyler Balaban and his fiancée are scrambling to find another venue for this weekend

Two events at the Fitzpatrick Family Vineyards have had to be cancelled thanks to a nearby wildfire

PEACHLAND (NEWS 1130) – Not only are people being displaced by a wildfire between Peachland and Summerland, but events are being affected.

One of those was the wedding of a Coquitlam couple to be held at the Fitzpatrick Family Vineyards.

“We spent eight months looking for a venue,” says groom-to-be Tyler Balaba. “We chose the Fitzpatrick Family Vineyards after visiting about 180 wineries in total. When we found it, it was our dream. This was exactly where we want to have it. Everything is perfect about it.”

But then on Wednesday the vineyard fell under an evacuation order. That sent Balaban and his fiancée scrambling to find another place for their weekend ceremony.

He hit Twitter to try to quickly come up with a Plan B.

“A bunch of wineries have reached out. They’ve been super-supportive. It’s amazing how complete strangers reach out and are willing to give a helping hand,” Balaba says.

He says, fortunately, they’re close to finding another venue.

Meanwhile, the president of the vineyard, Gordon Fitzpatrick, is calling the scene near his property on Wednesday “pretty dramatic.”

“The winds picked up. The fire engulfed Mount Eneas and hopped Highway 97 at around 7 p.m. We had to put on some sprinklers in our north field to protect it.”

It’s not the first time he’s had to deal with a raging wildfire. Back in 2003, he owned Cedar Creek Estate Winery when it was hit with an evacuation order.

So far his vineyard has escaped the flames, but he had to cancel the weekend wedding, plus the latest installment of the Crush Deck music concert on Wednesday night.

“We had Jim Cuddy all lined up. We had 300 people expecting to see the show.”

He’s now nervously watching the weather.

“Let’s hope the winds calm down. It’s a bit windy right now. It’s a little disconcerting.”

Fitzpatrick himself doesn’t live on the property. He says the only person affected by the evacuation order is his vineyard manager.

With files from Cole Deakin