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

Parent concerned over privacy breach is a candidate for Chilliwack school board

Brian Mielke said sharing of student names with U.S. research firm shows trustees disregarding law

Chilliwack athletes run in the rain at first cross-country race

Dozens of elementary/middle/high schoolers tackled a mucky course next to Twin Rinks last Thursday.

Fraser River First Nations say they aren’t getting their share of sockeye

Shortage is a result of decisions made by DFO, not a shortage of sockeye, complaint says

Chilliwack Chiefs benefit from BCHL Showcase exposure

Carter Wilkie’s first BCHL goal Saturday against Wenatchee earned him talks with several NCAA scouts.

Surging Okanagan Sun stop slumping Valley Huskers

A blocked punt set the tone for the Sun in a BC Football Conference game at the Apple Bowl.

Video: Flyers new mascot ‘Gritty’ a bearded, googly-eyed terror

The Philadelphia Flyers unveiled their new mascot Monday, and as one would expect of the team that gave us the “Broad Street Bullies,” he’s far from cuddly.

Harvest Moon to light up B.C. skies with an ‘autumn hue’

It’s the first moon after the autumn equinox

Hockey league gets $1.4M for assistance program after Humboldt Broncos crash

Program will help players, families, coaches and volunteers after the shock of the deadly crash

Canada has removed six out of 900 asylum seekers already facing U.S. deportation

Ottawa had said the ‘overwhelming majority’ had been removed

Appeal pipeline decision but consult Indigenous communities, Scheer says

The federal appeals court halted the Trans Mountain expansion last month

B.C. electric vehicle subsidy fund drains faster than expected

Province adds another $10 million to incentive fund

‘I’ll never forgive you:’ Victim impact statements at hearing for Calgary killer

Curtis Healy was found guilty of first-degree murder Friday in the death of Dawns Baptiste.

Man accused of mailing bomb to his brother in B.C. has died

Leon Nepper was found in ‘medical distress’ at the Whitehorse Correctional Centre on Sunday

Most Read