One person was airlifted to hospital late Tuesday night after a fire engulfed a trailer at Sunnyside Campground at Cultus Lake.
Facebook poster Nikita La Rose Graham posted a long eyewitness account, calling it one of the most terrifying nights of her life.
Graham wrote that she started hearing “death curdling screams” shortly after midnight, and moments later she heard people yelling ‘Fire! Fire!’
Coming out of her trailer she looked two rows over and saw the orange glow of flames and panicked people running to their cars. Graham’s partner, Keith, was closer to the fire when it happened and was one of the people who tried to help as two girls screamed that a man was inside with a dog.
The man fell out of the door and hit the ground, and was pulled away from the trailer. The dog did not survive.
Graham said the fire was near the entrance to Sunnyside, preventing people from getting out, but once Keith hurried back to his campsite, they took their truck to a back gate and used tow straps to rip it off its hinges. A convoy of vehicles followed them through the opening and they gathered at a nearby parking lot.
“All we could do was pray for the family!” she wrote. “My heart absolutely broke for them as Keith told me what he saw and what happened in the five minutes he was there.”
Cultus Lake Fire Department Chief Warren Mazuren said his crews arrived around 12:30 a.m. and saw the trailer fully ablaze. Fire had also spread to a nearby tree, but campers threw water at it to keep it contained until firefighters got to work.
Mazuren said quick response time and a bit of luck helped them get the fire contained.
Sunnyside staff helped them set up a perimeter and Mazuren said bystanders were good about staying out of the way.
“Definitely people who were in the immediate vicinity of the fire were taking it upon themselves to get out of there, which is probably a good thing,” he said. “It could have been a lot worse.”
Beyond the one serious injury, Mazuren said the fire also caused damage to an adjacent trailer.
“Luckily they (Sunnyside) have a good system of keeping the trees trimmed up and there was no candling involved,” he noted. “That was helpful in the fire not spreading.”
He said the cause of the fire is under investigation.