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

Kelowna mom misses two sons killed by opioids

‘I’m always very aware of 11 o’clock’

Pair of Rockets added to NHL team’s prospect showcase

Kelowna’s Kyle Topping and Lief Mattson were added to the Carolina Hurricanes prospect roster

B.C. Culture Days hits Kelowna next month

The event will offer a variety of free activities in Kelowna, West Kelowna and Lake Country

Vernon man facing drug trafficking charges in Kelowna

The man was found with suspected cocaine, heroin and fentanyl and thousands of dollars in cash

Lawyers to hold pro bono ‘advice-a-thon’ in Kelowna’s City Park

Free legal advice will be given to low-income Kelowna residents from 10am-2pm on Sept. 10

Grass fire breaks out on highway south of Vernon

Highway 97 traffic slowed as firefighters snuff grass fire

Drugs, cash and 11 people apprehended at Okanagan residence

RCMP executed warrant at a Vernon home for second time in a month

Wildfire sparks beside Highway 3 west of Keremeos

A wildfire on the side of Highway 3 just west of Keremeos… Continue reading

Summerland relaunches net metering program

Event open house will be held Aug. 27 from 3 to 6 p.m in Arena Banquet Room

Conan turns to the Property Brothers for tips on buying Greenland

Jonathan Scott suggests removing glaciers and mountains to bring in ‘more natural light’

Jaws of Life used to rescue driver in North Okanagan crash

Single-vehicle MVI causes traffic delays on Highway 6

Forests minister visits B.C. town rocked by multiple mill shutdowns

A third of Mackenzie turns out for rally, not much to cheer about

B.C. sockeye returns drop as official calls 2019 ‘extremely challenging’

Federal government says officials are seeing the same thing off Alaska and Washington state

Most Read