10 feet from home: B.C. grassfire offers stark reminder how quickly blazes burn

Kamloops woman among first people in B.C. to be told to evacuate home this wildfire season

The fast-moving grass fire in Kamloops ended in good news, but is serving as a stark reminder for much of B.C. in how quick a spark could escalate into irreversible devastation.

For Bobbi-Jo Stephenson, the evening started like any other Thursday: Dropping her daughter at soccer practice while her son stayed home, babysitting a family friend’s two children.

“I happened to get a text from my daughter’s friend saying, ‘There is a fire behind your home, and you might get evacuated,’” she told Black Press Media while looking out onto the burnt hillside from her back porch.

Stephenson was able to get in touch with her son, who was panicking from all the smoke.

“As I was talking with him on the phone telling him to go outside, the firefighter happened to be knocking on the door to tell him to get out,” she said. Her son was able to find their neighbour and stay with them until Stephenson got home.

READ MORE: Possibly lightning-caused fire burns within metres of homes in Kamloops

READ MORE: Around 40,000 lightning strikes and over 200 new fires in B.C.

Stephenson’s home was among the 12 that were the first in B.C. to be told to leave their homes this wildfire season.

As quickly as it sparked – lightning is believed to be the culprit – the fire became a significant one for the BC Wildfire Service, reaching 60 hectares at its peak and burning 10 feet away from Stephenson’s backyard.

“It was just like ‘bang,’ it just happened,” Stephenson said. “Today, I realize we could have lost everything. We only had the shirts on our back.”

Officials gained control of the flames later that night.

UNDER EVACUATION: Sleeping in cars and tents

UNDER EVACUATION: Finding the silver lining in an evacuation

Stephenson represents the majority of British Columbians, having never been forced out of her home by a wildfire.

It’s a situation both scientists and government officials say residents should be aware of as an increasing possibility.

Last year, 65,000 people were displaced by roaring wildfires in the B.C. Interior. Some of them had no more than a few minutes to pack up necessities and drive to the nearest evacuation centre.

“My neighbour who grabbed my kids, she had been in firefighting and had a bag packed,” Stephenson said.

READ MORE: What to do during an evacuation

Emergency Info BC suggests having an emergency kid and important documents ready to go in case of an evacuation, as well as several days’ clothing and items for pets.

Moving forward, Stephenson said her family is going to have a plan in case chaos ignites again.


@ashwadhwani
ashley.wadhwani@bpdigital.ca

Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter.

Just Posted

Spartans squeak out pre-season soccer victory in Oregon

Trinity Western’s women’s soccer team plays in Washington today, then at home on Saturday night.

Langley woman’s graduation marks expansion of PTSD service dog program

Delta-based B.C. and Alberta Guide Dogs Society and Vancouver Island Compassion Dogs merging to service to more veterans

Bevy of remarkable birthdays celebrated in Aldergrove

Maudie MacPherson (age 101), Vera Banner (91) and Alice Utas (95)

Take-home naloxone may be replacing 911 calls in parts of Lower Mainland

Naloxone kits handed out up 29% over 2017, ambulance calls and emergency visits down 22-24%, deaths hold steady

Pond hockey banned in public parks under updated Township bylaw

Public spaces bylaw imposes new restrictions on smoking, possession of drug paraphernalia, geocaching and more

PHOTOS: B.C. city wakes up to darkness under wildfire smoke

The rest of the province also dealing with thick haze as smoky skies continue

Safeway union urgest rejection of mediator recommendations

Says mediator asks for too many concessions

Fire chases B.C. crews out of their own camp

Crews in Burns Lake had to leave after a wildfire reportedly overtook their sleeping quarters

To address peacock problem, B.C. city moves ahead on trapping plan

Surrey’s new bylaw focuses on ensuring people no longer feed the birds, ahead of relocation

VIDEO: RibFest kicks off in Langley

Free event features barbecue ribs, chicken, pork and brisket from Canada’s top rib artists

Hospitals to see ‘delays’ in care after losing Saudi students, health group says

About 1,000 Saudi residents called back to kingdom after suspending diplomatic relations with Canada

Bernier diatribe against ‘extreme multiculturalism’ boosts Liberal coffers

Party spokesperson Braeden Caley says online donations doubled, social media engagement quadrupled

‘Disjointed’ system hinders British Columbia First Nations in wildfire fight

More than 550 wildfires were burning in B.C. and crews were bracing for wind and dry lightning

Castlegar bridge designed by architect of collapsed Italian bridge

Riccardo Morandi designed the Kinnaird Bridge, which is part of Highway 3.

Most Read