State of emergency to be lifted in Lytton, B.C., two years after fire destroyed town

State of emergency to be lifted in Lytton, B.C., two years after fire destroyed town

LYTTON, B.C. — Almost two years after a wildfire ripped through Lytton, B.C., residents will soon be able to return to their properties.

Council for the Village of Lytton has voted to allow the local state of emergency to expire on June 19.

The emergency was declared June 30, 2021, after B.C.’s sweltering heat dome triggered a wildfire that raced through the village, killing two people and burning homes, businesses, the ambulance station, police detachment and village office.

Lytton Mayor Denise O’Connor says those who plan to return could start rebuilding within a few months, but they still don’t know how many residents will be coming back.

Temporary facilities including a health centre and village hall are being established after rebuilding delays that involved archeology work and concerns over toxic soil left by the fire.

Premier David Eby says the province has put tens of millions of dollars into the project so far and more will likely be needed, but he’s very glad to hear that the emergency order is being lifted.

“There are now people in Lytton that are in a position to be able to start rebuilding, that the archeological work has been done, the site remediated and basic services present in the village.”

O’Connor says some property owners could begin construction soon.

“Those people who have that in place and they’re ready to start rebuilding, we should be seeing that within the next couple of months, I would think, I would hope.”

Statistics Canada figures show Lytton had a population of 210 people in 2021 before the fire.

The village says in a statement that lifting the emergency order next week will give private property owners access to their sites, allowing them to begin their plans to rebuild.

— With files from Paul James at CHNL in Kamloops

This report by The Canadian Press was first published June 15, 2023.

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