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

Pot smoking teen swerves to miss police vehicle

16 year old apprehended, and put in the care of his mother, after he almost crashes into RCMP

Greyhound to end bus service in B.C., Alberta

Company axing passenger bus and freight services in Prairies, and cutting all but one route in B.C.

France doubles up Croatia 4-2 to win World Cup

Played in Moscow Russia, latest Fifa World Cup marks the highest scoring final since 1966

First Nation pipeline protesters erect ‘tiny homes’ in B.C. Park

Kanahus Manuel and Tiny House Warriors say more homes being constructed in park

VIDEO: Visual recap of Vancouver Island MusicFest

Walk Off The Earth, Passenger, Arlo Guthrie among highlights

Wartime Wednesdays

Invermere’s Elinor Florence investigates stories from our wartime past

Trudeau’s youth council divided over Trans Mountain pipeline purchase

A letter signed by 16 past and present members was made public today, asking the federal government to reverse course

Hulk Hogan reinstated into wrestling Hall of Fame

Hogan had used racial slurs caught on video when talking about his daughter sleeping with a black man

‘Lava bomb’ through roof of tour boat injures 22 in Hawaii

“An explosion occurred near the shoreline hurling hot lava rocks towards the boat and injuring several passengers”

B.C. teen meets Nicolas Cage

Filming mob movie in downtown Vernon, B.C.

Critics claim Trump “defended a tyrant”

Trump questions US intel, not Putin, on Russia 2016 meddling

B.C. MLAs choose new children’s watchdog

Jennifer Charlesworth has worked in government, social services

B.C. reporter calls out immigration photo on social media as fake news

A Vancouver reporter is calling out a British politician for spreading fake news

Most Read