108 MILE RANCH (NEWS 1130) – “We just want to know what’s going on. It’s stressful. You just don’t know, and that’s the worst feeling, not knowing. All we know is we don’t have a home right now.”
Will and his family had to leave their home at 108 Mile Ranch this weekend, as wildfires encroached on the area.
“We just grabbed all of our important stuff, Photo albums, clothes, just keepsakes, Anything we could keep in the trailer to go,” he says.
“Friday night we knew it was probably going to get bad, so we pulled our trailer out ready to go.”
Will says he and his neighbours are stressed about a lack of information.
“It’s surreal. It’s really hard to explain. You never expect it to happen to you. And I don’t think it’s fully set in yet. We’re just trying to do our best to keep safe and keep calm.”
“We have a few friends that are still out there… we talked to them. They’re stressed.”
“Trying to get information is almost impossible. All the cloud, all the smoke, it’s unbelievable. They’re all stressed. We’re all stressed.”
A seasoned British Columbia firefighter says he’s never seen anything like the fast-moving wildfire that tore through his new home, leaving him and his neighbours scant seconds to escape.
Wilfred Duncan moved into his friend’s house on the Ashcroft Indian Reserve two weeks ago, only to watch the home burn down after the wildfire overwhelmed the community, destroying more than 30 buildings.
Duncan is a retired forestry firefighter with 20 years of experience, but said the Ashcroft blaze was overwhelming.
“There was no time to get scared,” he said, speaking outside the evacuation services centre in Kamloops on Saturday. “We just reacted. There was no time to think. None.”
“The way that was coming, there was no stopping it,” Duncan said. “We’re talking dry sagebrush, dry grass. What’s going to stop that? That’s just like lighting toilet paper on fire.”
Duncan was on the front line of the Barriere wildfire in 2003, which is the last time the provincial government declared a BC-wide state of emergency because of fires, but he said it doesn’t compare to his experience in this disaster.
“Maybe it’s different because here I was watching my friend’s home, my niece’s home burn,” he said, looking away as he blinked back tears. “What could we do but stand there and watch? Crying isn’t going to bring anything back.”
The Acting Mayor of the City of Kamloops, Arjun Singh, says the response from the community to the fires has been touching.
“I’m really humbled by my community, in terms of how much people are stepping up to try and help out,” he says.
“I’ve had a number of calls and social media contact from folks who are wanting to help out… It’s just an amazing response. So obviously people are in a very anxious situation and we’re trying to do our best in our community to assist and help out.”
“It’s obviously a very quick-moving situation so I hope people have some patience with the process and everybody is doing the best that they can in the situation that we’re in.”