Watching the Christie Mountain wildfire burn on a hillside above Skaha Lake in Penticton Tuesday night brought back some startling memories for a former city councillor and mayor.
In 1994 David Perry lived on the opposite side of town when a wildfire broke out along similar lines in the hills above, quickly growing to threaten the Okanagan resort town.
"You kind of think you're living through the whole thing over again, a bit of deja vu," he said. "As soon as you see a puff [of smoke] in the hill everything comes back again and you think, 'Oh no, here we go again.'"
That fire from 26 years ago was known as the Garnet wildfire.
It burned 55 square kilometres, destroyed 18 homes and forced more than 4,000 Penticton residents to flee their homes.
It's a stark contrast to the current Christie Mountain wildfire burning in the same area.
The Christie Mountain fire destroyed one home before a coordinated response — and favourable weather — helped temper its threat. Around 300 homes have been evacuated so far.
Perry said up until the Garnet fire, the city hadn't had to deal with such a threatening fire, and things learned from that time and from another serious fire in the region in 2003 may have helped officials have more success with the Christie Mountain fire.
As the Garnet fire was raging, and firefighters scrambled to contain it, there was criticism that the initial response wasn't enough to save homes and prevent evacuations.
A spokesperson for the B.C. Ministry of Forests said there would be some "soul searching" after the fire was brought to heel.
WATCH: CBC reporter Kelly McLughan reports from the Garnet wildfire in Penticton in July 1994.
Perry says he's been impressed with how the Christie Mountain fire has been handled.
"Now seems to be a whole different level of response," he said.
Officials dealing with Christie Mountain wildfire commended a coordinated response between the city, the regional district and provincial government.
They pointed to a program that allows local firefighters and their heavy equipment to be deployed from anywhere across the province to help. Nearly 150 firefighters came from as far away as the coast to work on the Christie Mountain fire.
Penticton Fire Chief Larry Watkinson also said modern firefighters are getting different training than they did 26 years ago to help deal with wildfires.
The B.C. Wildfire Service holds a symposium in towns like Penticton in the spring of each year.
Watkinson also admitted that the Garnet wildfire may have helped stall the Christie Mountain wildfire because of how the burnt trees and other plants grew back.
"This is second generation growth," he said, describing the types of grasses and other plants in the area of the fire. "[The fire] moved quickly but the fire didn't want to move too far into the community based on it had already been burned through."
In the end, Penticton residents like Perry are thankful for the response and that the Christie Mountain fire has so far spared the municipality further destruction.
"It was scary, it was a close call," he said.
'Role to play'
Perry also doesn't want people to rely on firefighters and favourable weather to save them if another fire comes.
He wants residents to do more to have emergency grab-and-go kits ready and to volunteer with the city to help out with emergency response.
"We've got to be aware that this isn't an annual event, but a once in every two or three years event," he said. "Penticton residents have a role to play."