A former Victoria school board chair was one of many who had to flee Lytton, B.C. within minutes after a fire starting and sweeping through town.
On Wednesday night while on a Zoom call, former Greater Victoria school board chair Edith Loring-Kuhanga heard sirens, and then a colleague phoned her telling her to get out.
“When I got the call to evacuate, I had my suitcase packed because I was on my way back to Victoria for a couple of days,” Loring-Kuhanga said. “And I just grabbed my suitcase.”
It took just minutes for the fire to devastate the town.
“There was debris everywhere, wind was blowing, there was fire exploding. There were people driving down yelling, ‘move! move!” Others were trying to get to knock on people’s doors, and tell them to get out.”
With hot and windy conditions continuing to fan fires in and around Lytton, B.C., it looks like a bomb levelled the village. Ninety per cent of all the community’s structures and gone.
1,000 people had to leave their homes in the village and surrounding areas, two people remain unaccounted for.
Thunderstorms in other areas of the province have caused the fire season to begin earlier than people were expecting.
Near Kamloops on Thursday night, lightning strikes that resulted in a fast-moving fire quickly threatened the residential neighbourhood of Juniper Ridge, home to 4,000 residents including Liberal MLA Todd Stone.
“Within ten minutes of hearing that loud bang, it was very, very clear that a large fire had started literally a few streets over from where we live,” said Stone
He said there was no time to think, he and his family left their home within minutes.
“There’s no doubt in anyone’s mind up there a the time that lightning had caused the fire, and fire not insignificant and posed a very serious threat to structures and homes up there,” he said. “It was imperative that we get out of there as quickly as possible.”
According to the BC Wildfire Service, the province is three weeks ahead of its typical fire season with 136 active fires burning, and nine fires that are potentially threatening to communities in the Cariboo, and the Southeast Interior.
A GoFundMe account has been set up on behalf of the Lytton First Nation to help raise funds for community members who have lost their homes.