British Columbia

Mobile home park destroyed by Elephant Hill fire in 2017 to be rebuilt

A mobile home park destroyed by the Elephant Hill wildfire in 2017 has received approval to be rebuilt.

Developer moving forward with wildfire mitigation in mind

B.C. Hydro workers repair power lines among the remains of mobile homes destroyed by wildfire in Boston Flats near Ashcroft, B.C., on July 9, 2017. B.C. (Canadian Press/Darryl Dyck)

More than 50,000 people were forced to evacuate their homes during the summer of 2017 when the Elephant Hill wildfire tore through B.C.'s Interior. 

Many were able to return home, but the residents of a trailer park in Boston Flats, about 87 kilometres west of Kamloops, B.C., weren't so fortunate; the fire decimated the community, leaving just three of the park's 51 mobile homes standing.

"It was terrifying," said Lisa Buchanan, one of the owners of Cole Developments Ltd., which owns the property. 

She was grateful, however, that all of the residents made it out of the park safely.

Now, more than three years later, plans to rebuild are in motion. 

The Thompson Nicola Regional District has given Cole Developments approval to build 60 new mobile homes on the upper level of the same property. 

Keeping in mind that the region is hot and dry in the summer, Buchanan said they will be providing more space between homes than before, and will ensure brush and other debris is cleared to minimize fuel for any future wildfires. 

"We don't want to go through that again," Buchanan said. 

"One of the worries about going back to the original spot was would there be just a little bit of a level of PTSD for people to go down there knowing that that fire was there. The fire really is impacting how we go forward on this."

Remnants of the Boston Flats trailer park, which was destroyed by fire in 2017. (Daniel Beauparlant/CBC)

They had planned to move forward with a rebuild shortly after the fire, but unexpected costs associated with the development prevented them from doing so. 

Although the residents forced from the park in 2017 have found new homes, Buchanan hopes some may decide to return once the new park is complete. She's already received an email from a former tenant inquiring about the rebuild. 

"From what I understand from the different agencies we've talked to, yes, there is a need for that type of housing [in the area]," she said. 

With files from Daybreak Kamloops

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