British Columbia

'We are going back to nothing': B.C. wildfire evacuees left with just ashes

Thousands of BC residents are afraid for their homes as they are forced to evacuate in the face of ravaging fires.

More than 14,000 BC residents displaced as wildfires worsen

'We lost everything and so did everybody else in the trailer park,' said Susan Smith of Ashcroft, BC. (Chris Corday/CBC)

Thousands of BC residents are afraid for their homes as they are forced to evacuate in the face of ravaging fires.

There are currently 220 wildfires burning in B.C., 140 of which started on Friday, according to B.C. wildfire officials.

The wildfire service says at least a dozen of those fires, particularly in the Cariboo and Kamloops regions pose serious threats to those communities.

An evacuated resident from Boston Flats who is staying in Kamloops has been told by some in the community the propsect of her returning to her trailer looks bleak.

"We're going back to nothing," said Susan Smith.

"All the trailers and everything are just laying flat. We probably won't even be able to save a picture."

Smith was forced to evacuate on Friday.  After returning to the trailer park with her husband from an errand in town, she was greeted by police.

"I said, well, we got a cat, and he said, 'go get your cat and get out of here.' And so, we went and picked up our cat and threw her in the car and we left and we went to the Cache Creek Community Centre."

Smith was emotional as she told CBC the hardest possessions to lose are her pictures.

"Pictures of my son and his trek across Canada. My daughter — pictures of them growing up, my grandchildren — all of their pictures. I had pictures of my great grandparents, and my parents are both gone and I had their pictures and my Dad's ashes. I don't care about anything else."

Jacquelyn Turner was expecting to camp while on her first vacation in over three years but not in an emergency situation. (Andrew Kurjata/CBC)

Jacquelyn Turner from Mission, B.C., is also grieving over lost sentimental possessions. She was visiting her parents on their family hobby farm near 150 Mile House when the evacuation order was issued.

"All of a sudden, it [fire] just pops out of the trees, and they are like you got to leave, you got to leave now," said Turner.

"All of my childhood memories were in that house. Grandma's china and that kind of stuff, you know, stuff that I hold sentimental. It's the hardest thing."

"It was supposed to be my first vacation in three-and-a-half years."

Although devastated, Turner doesn't regret her visit. She says she would rather be with her parents to help them during these tough times.

Even through tears, she is still able to joke about her situation.

"I wanted to go camping but I didn't want to do this," she laughed, referring to the South Park RV Park and Campsite where she and her family have taken refuge.

Travis Golar and Sarah Knapp took a school bus from 100 Mile House to Prince George Sunday night. 'Everyone was stressed out,' Golar said. (Andrew Kurjata/CBC )

"The funniest thing for me was watching my dad grab his filing cabinet and put it in his truck, like I would have grabbed the china."

A second wave of evacuations occurred in the Interior Sunday night, when nearly 2,000 residents of 100 Mile House were ordered to leave their homes and head north to safety.

"It was hectic," said Travis Golar, who left on a school bus with his girlfriend, dog and other passengers from the community.

"We didn't have enough time to grab anything."

Residents of 108 Mile Ranch, Sherryl and Rob Anderson, who live north of the Golars have had to evacuate twice since Friday.

They first fled to Forest Grove, but on Sunday night, heavy smoke forced them to camp at a Wal-Mart in Prince George.

Walmart campers Sherryl and Rob Anderson first fled a wildfire at 108 Mile House, and then heavy smoke in Forest Grove before heading to a campsite in Sicamous, B.C. (CBC)

With nothing but what they could fit in their camper, the Andersons are focusing on the generosity they have been receiving.

"We went into Wal-Mart to pick up some things to carry on with and they asked us to contribute to the fire relief fund and I said we're one of the victims, and the lady behind us offered to pay our bill," said Rob Anderson.

The couple, just like others in the parking lot, are expecting to be relocated again. For now though, the Andersons are looking at a campsite in Sicamous, B.C.

With files from Belle Puri, Anita Bathe and Andrew Kurjata

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