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Kamloops homes evacuated twice in 1 night due to lightning-sparked wildfire

City of Kamloops rescinded evacuation order, reinstated it an hour later

UPDATE: July 2, 1 a.m.

Just an hour after the City of Kamloops rescinded an evacuation order for the Juniper Ridge neighbourhood, another has been issued.

The new order applies to all homes on Capilano Drive and all properties on Nechako Drive, east of Qu’Appelle Boulevard. According to the city’s emergency map, that includes 123 homes with 336 residents.

As the Kamloops emergency support services reception centre is at capacity with evacuees from the Lytton and Sparks Lake fires, the city is asking residents to seek shelter with friends or family for the night.

Twenty BC Wildfire Service and Kamloops Fire Rescue personnel will be on-site overnight. A bird dog spotter will be flying at 5:30 a.m. with bucketing beginning at 6 a.m.

Social media users are reporting heavy rain in the city early Friday morning, which should help those efforts.

UPDATE: 11:30 p.m.

Residents of Kamloops’ Juniper Ridge and Valleyview neighbourhoods can return to their homes, the City of Kamloops says. But a fire in the area continues to burn.

Evacuation orders caused by a blaze between Juniper and Valleyview were rescinded just more than an hour after they were issued.

ORIGINAL STORY: 10:30 p.m.

Homes in Kamloops’ Juniper Ridge neighbourhood are being evacuated as a lighting-caused fire grows in the hills between Juniper and Valleyview.

The fire is one of many that have started due to a rolling thunderstorm, which arrived at about 6 p.m. and is still producing thunder and lightning as of 10 p.m.

The fire below Juniper is burning west toward Valleyview and was last estimated at 50 hectares.

The City of Kamloops has activated its Emergency Operations Centre to support the fire department battling the blaze. The RCMP is carrying out a tactical evacuation for all properties south of Valleyview Drive from River Road to Highland Drive. Properties north of Nechako Drive in Juniper are also under an evacuation order.

“Evacuated residents are asked to seek shelter with friends and family for tonight, as the ESS (emergency support services) reception centre are currently at capacity supporting evacuees from the Lytton and surrounding area wildfires. Further details on an ESS registration will follow tomorrow,” reads a release from the city.

The city is asking residents and businesses to stop irrigation to protect water supply for fire crews.

Kamloops This Week spoke to Linda Bolton as she prepared to leave her Capilano Drive Home. She and her husband joined a long line of vehicles snaking their way down Highland Road — the only way in and out of the neighbourhood.

READ MORE: From smoke to devastation: 23 minutes in Lytton

READ MORE: Two neighbourhoods evacuated as human-caused Castlegar wildfire continues to burn

Bolton said firefighters were going door to door, telling residents to leave immediately.

Her neighbour banged on her door before firefighters arrived.

“It’s big. Let’s get out of here,” the neighbour said.

Bolton, a salesperson at Kamloops This Week, said she and husband Terry grabbed what they could — photo albums, passports, computers, phone charges and water — and made their way to the vehicle.

She said the fire is burning right behind their home.

“It’s so weird. My neighbour told me, when the lightning started, that we better get a go-bag started,” Bolton said. “Then this happened.”

There were three or four fires sparked on Strawberry Hill above Highway 5 and reports of a fire on the south side of Mount Paul.

Strawberry Hill burned in the 2003 wildfire season. It was one of several fires in the Kamloops area that destroyed homes, leaving residents in emergency shelters.

- With files from Kamloops This Week

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