When they fled, the residents of Lytton watched their neighborhood burn down
Edith Loring-Kuhanga was attending a Zoom meeting at home when she heard the sirens passing by her home on Fraser Street in Lytton, British Columbia
Soon after, she received a call from a colleague telling her that she needed to leave home immediately.
Loring-Kuhanga’s suitcase has been packed, because she is going to Victoria the next day. She grabbed the one and her computer and left.
“It happened so quickly,” she told CBC Radio.
“People don’t have time to get their animals, people just don’t have time to get their personal belongings. I mean, I left all my photo albums. I left everything.”
On Wednesday night, a small village in British Columbia in northeast Vancouver experienced a record three days of high temperatures and wildfires, which forced more than 1,000 people to leave their homes.
Watch | The locals describe the disaster:
Ely Makeiv didn’t even wear a shirt when she was forced to evacuate.
“I just grabbed my dog ??and I managed to get out of it,” he said.
He had to stop twice on the way out of the city because the thick smoke on the road made him unable to see. In the end, he succeeded.
Bernice Abbott, who was out of town, returned to Lytton on Wednesday and saw her community engulfed in flames and smoke.
She has 15 minutes to retrieve the essentials from home.
“I went and got all our ID cards immediately,” she said.
“The children have just returned from their relatives, so their luggage has already been packed, so only my partner and I can take the luggage.”
At around 5:15 on Wednesday night, when Nannette Phillips-Smith left her job at the local bank, she noticed a fire behind a motel. At that time she knew she had to leave the area.
“I can see it. I can smell it,” she said.
She left for Lillooet, not knowing where her family was because there was no cell phone receiver or internet.
She left her hometown, where she grew up, and knew that when she returned home, her home might be gone.
Lillooet, north of Litton, accommodated dozens of evacuees throughout the night. A regional representative said on Thursday that the official number is 188, but because many evacuees have not yet been officially registered, the number may be even higher.
Loring-Kuhanga, Abbott, and Phillips-Smith all got there safely, but they were also scared.
“Anxiety is high,” Abbott said Wednesday night. “We are still working hard to get in touch with family and friends.”
Phillips-Smith didn’t hear from her family until Thursday morning because they drove from the west side of Lytton to Lillooet and finally entered the city.
Some people continue to pass through Lillooet to the Boston Bar Community, Merritt’s evacuation center or Kamloops.
“I’m scared,” Phillips-Smith said. “I don’t know what to do. I’m just worried about my family.”
Watch | Litton’s evacuation work:
Loring-Kuhanga said that some people are concerned about the Mckay Creek fire that occurred 23 kilometers north of Lillooet. As of Thursday afternoon, the fire had expanded to 150 square kilometers and was still out of control.
“People are also a little afraid of this because they said, you know, we just came back from a fire, and now we are driving back to another fire,” Lorraine-Kuhanga said.
“If the fire continues to hit Lillooet, will we really be trapped? So I think a lot of our community members are thinking, you know, we should go to Kamloops now and try to find a place there .”
“Most houses” were destroyed
The province said that “most of the houses” and buildings in the village, as well as the local ambulance station and RCMP detachment, were destroyed by the fire. A local councillor said that 90% of the people in the village are gone.
When she described the destruction of her community to CBC’s Gloria Macarenko, Loring-Kuhanga burst into tears. While she was doing this, a student from the school where she worked at Litton came and told her that everything would be fine, and he was also in the Lilloet evacuation center.
She said she hopes people will have more time to grasp what is important to them.
“I just think of all our community members,” she said.
“So many people have so many memories, history and generations living in their homes and everything-now all of this is gone, you know, I think that’s why it is so painful for people, it’s a lot of them People don’t have time.”