Six homes destroyed in a “horrible” wildfire west of Lytton, British Columbia, with no reported injuries


A wildfire just west of Lytton, British Columbia, burned at least half a dozen homes, but spreads in the opposite direction of the village, officials said Friday.

John Hogen, Deputy Chief Cabinet Secretary of the Lytton Indigenous Peoples Reserve, said the situation was harsh the day after a flame broke out about two kilometers northwest of Lytton on the other side of the Fraser River.

“It was really daunting. There is no electricity here and there may be a shortage of water on the eastern side of the Fraser River,” he said in a briefing.

He added that small ferries across the river became unusable due to high water levels, making it difficult to move resources towards the western fire.

The flames broke out over a year after a fierce wildfire burned down the same area, flattened the center of town, and expelled many inhabitants who had not yet returned home.

At least 15 square kilometers have burned since the outbreak on Thursday, spreading over steep terrain to the west, according to British Columbia’s Wildfire Service. There are about 80 firefighters on site.

The Lytton Indigenous Peoples Reserve and the Thompson-Nicolas District have issued evacuation orders and warnings to dozens of facilities on the west side of the river. Despite some early communication challenges unrelated to the fire, cell service has recovered and Hogen said he believes all residents are aware of the situation.

He added that at least six housing structures were lost, but the number could exceed nine, and authorities are trying to contact the affected population.

“Because it is catastrophic, we need to be careful about how we approach them and identify their losses.”

Forest Minister Katrin Conroy said the fire is not currently threatening the village of Lytton. She said the crew successfully contained the flames that jumped over the Fraser River on Thursday night.

Public Security Minister Mike Fernworth said the fire was still classified as out of control, but the model suggested that it would not threaten other communities. No injuries have been reported, he added.

“I know this is a very stressful and emotional situation, as the community is still working towards rebuilding after last year’s devastating Lytton Creek fire, and this is BC. I know it was difficult for the state’s wildfire service crew. Many responded to last year’s incident, “Fernworth said.

At the beginning of Friday, Taylor Colman, a spokeswoman for the British Wildfire Service, said a severe fire broke out due to strong winds and high waters, lack of roads and steep terrain that made access difficult.

By Friday afternoon, winds blowing at 30-40 km / h pushed the fire west and away from the community, according to the Wildfire Department.

Service said three 21 crew members and three first attack crew members were fighting the fire. They were supported by six helicopters, three air tankers, and a major aircraft known as Birddog.

Prime Minister John Horgan said on social media that his ideas lie with the people of the region.

“It’s unimaginable to face a second wildfire a year after the devastation they faced,” he said on Twitter. “Thanks to the crew working to keep people safe.”

Tricia Thorpe lives in the area and said the fire renewed the memory of last year’s wildfire, which destroyed most of Lytton.

“It’s devastating. I feel about the local firefighters,” she said in an interview with The Canadian Press.

“They are a wonderful, compassionate group of men and women, and in order for them to experience this at home, they must once again hurt their guts.”

Mr Thorpe said he is focusing on what she calls “Western people,” those who live on the west side of the Fraser River across Lytton.

“They were the ones who welcomed us into their community last year when they lost everything in a wildfire at Merit,” she said.

Evacuees are told to go to the emergency reception center in Lillooet or Cache Creek.

Amy Smart and Collet Darwallis

Canadian press