Evacuees from Lytton are sharing harrowing tales of escaping their home community Wednesday as a fast-moving fire tore through the village — many unsure whether their homes are still standing.
“Up until yesterday I had a home in Lytton,” David Harrison told Castanet on Thursday outside an evacuee centre in Merritt.
“We haven’t seen it but we’re pretty sure that it’s burned. Our fifth-wheel trailer was parked in town, too, and we’re pretty sure it’s toast.”
Harrison described a scary scene. He said he was extinguishing a number of small fires on his property before becoming overwhelmed by a larger blaze.
Harrison said he stopped trying to fight the flames after he saw the power lines burn off of a nearby hydro pole.
“I had the fires put out that were around our house, and then the big fire came,” he said. “So we’re here.”
Many Lytton residents are under the impression their community suffered significant damage in the fire. Some estimates are that 90 per cent of structures in the village were burned.
“It’s a tragedy. Apparently, there’s very few buildings left standing in Lytton. We’re not the only ones that are homeless — there’s a great many people,” he said.
“It’s a tragic situation.”
Fabian Duncan, another evacuee, told Castanet he was working near the train bridge when the fire started.
“Me and my partner were working, and the train went by, and then ‘boom’. All the smoke went up, and we got out of there,” Duncan said.
He said they were initially sent to the Lytton muster station, but as the fire tore through the village, everyone gathered there had to move on.
Duncan said he didn’t have time to grab any of his things before leaving town.
“We just grabbed baby food and our kids and loaded them up, and we were heading to Lillooett.”
Robert Leitch, a Lytton councillor, said that fires have always been a concern for the village, but the record-breaking heat over the past few days made the situation much worse.
“It just dried everything out. It just took one spark, and a gust of wind. Lytton always has winds, so it just would move something from one end of town to the other.”
Leitch said he had only 15 minutes to evacuate, but he was able to gather his essential, valuable items quickly, having them ready to go due to the nearby George Road wildfire that has been burning since mid-June.
“It’s just grabbing clothes and a few other things, like wallets and stuff like that, because that’s all that you have time to do, is just get everything in the truck. Try and see if you can knock on a few doors and then you’re out of town.”
Leitch said as he drove out of Lytton, there was fire “all over the place.”
“It basically moved from one of the street down to the other end within minutes,” he said, adding that he doesn’t know if his house is still standing.
“To be honest, it’s hard sleeping now because you just replay everything that went through, and that’s just really hard.”