Photos of the wildfire burning around Loon Lake, B.C., July Photo credit: Shawn Cahill. ORG XMIT: hvcApULVnZE_kI8zLLKu [PNG Merlin Archive]

More B.C. residents head home

Evacuation order lifted after B.C. wildfire destroys dozens of homes in Loon Lake

Hundreds of people are being allowed to return to Loon Lake, B.C., more than a month after flames forced them from their homes and destroyed dozens of buildings in the community.

The Thompson-Nicola Regional District lifted an evacuation order for 309 properties in the area, but an alert remains in place, warning residents that they may need to leave again on a moment’s notice.

The evacuation order was issued in mid July when a fire threatened the community, located about 130 kilometres northwest of Kamloops in B.C.’s Interior.

About 40 structures were destroyed by the flames, including vacation properties and permanent homes, said Megan Gregory, an information officer with the regional district.

In late July, local authorities released footage taken by a drone flying over an area devastated by the flames. The video shows the crumpled remains of homes, the metal skeletons of vehicles, piles of ash and blackened trees.

“The landscape, from pictures people have been sharing, has significantly changed,” Gregory said.

A meeting was held Sunday morning to give returning residents information on what they can expect to see and how to deal with some of the things they may encounter, including spoiled food and fridges that must be disposed of.

Overall, people are excited to return, Gregory said.

“From their interactions online and being part of some of their Facebook chats, they’re a great group of people and they’re so happy to be going home.”

A lifted evacuation order is great news, but there are things residents need to remember as go home, said Chris Duffy with Emergency Management BC.

“We want to remind people as they’re returning to their communities to be patient and respect the direction of first responders, local authorities, fire crews and the RCMP that are working in and around their community to keep them safe,” he said.

About 3,800 people around the province remain displaced by the flames and another 9,700 are on evacuation alert.

In addition to the evacuation alert in Loon Lake, an area restriction remains in place, which prohibits the public from entering the vicinity.

Kevin Skrepnek, chief information officer for the BC Wildfire Service, said the ban is in place because fire crews are active in the area and hazards like damaged trees could remain in the fire’s wake.

“Loon Lake itself is in the heart of where the fire did burn,” Skrepnek said.

It was one of 137 fires still burning in B.C. Sunday, he added, but the flames are moving away from Loon Lake.

“It’s seldom an area will burn twice. It depends on how thoroughly it burned through that area, but generally, once a fire has gone through, it won’t go back,” Skrepnek said.

More than 1,000 fires have burned across B.C. since April 1, scorching about 9,000 square kilometres.

Scattered showers were seen across parts of the province over the weekend, but Skrepnek said people shouldn’t get complacent because of the rain.

“By no means, has this rain done much to really alleviate our situation right now,” he said.

The Canadian Press

Just Posted

Greyhound cleared to end routes in northern B.C., Vancouver Island

Company says nine routes have dropped 30% in ridership in last five years

BC BUDGET: New spaces a step to universal child care

Fees reduced for licensed daycare operators

BC BUDGET: NDP cracks down on speculators, hidden ownership

Foreign buyers’ tax extended to Fraser Valley, Okanagan, Vancouver Island

BC BUDGET: Payroll tax replaces medical premiums

Health spending to increase $1.5 billion for drugs, primary care teams

B.C. freestyle skier wins gold

Cassie Sharpe of Comox shines in the halfpipe

VIDEO: Top 10 B.C. budget highlights

The NDP is focusing on childcare, affordable housing and speeding up the elimination of MSP premiums

How to keep local news visible in your Facebook feed

Facebook has changed the news feed to emphasize personal connections. You might see less news.

Team USA beats Canada 3-2 on the shootout to take home Olympic gold

Americans win their first gold medal since 1998

Two Haida men detained for crossing U.S.-Canada border

Edenshaw and Frisby travelled from Alaska to Prince Rupert for the All Native Basketball Tournament

Alberta takes out full-page ads in B.C. over strained relationship

It’s the latest move between the two provinces over progress on Trans Mountain pipeline expansion

B.C. teacher suspended over allegedly using N-word in worksheets

Trafalgar Elementary teacher under investigation by Vancouver School Board

Toddler swept away in Ontario floods

Toddler missing as flooding forces thousands from their homes in Ontario

BC BUDGET: New money helps seniors’ care shortage

Job stability for care aides key to recruitment, union leader says

Mixed messages on B.C.’s efforts to cool hot housing market

Economist says undersupply of homes in Metro Vancouver, Victoria and Kelowna will keep prices high

Most Read