British Columbia

In wildfire destruction in tiny B.C. Interior community, at least 1 home survives

Sherrie Fraser has a home, but no community to return to. Her home was spared Friday while 30 others burned in a wildfire that struck near Ashcroft, B.C.

Wildfires razed roughly 30 homes in the village Friday

Authorities said 30 homes in a Boston Flats trailer park were destroyed Friday night. (Submitted)

Sherrie Fraser has a home, but no community to return to. 

Fraser's mobile home, located in the tiny village of Boston Flats, B.C., was spared Friday night after a wildfire raged through the region, destroying at least 30 homes on all sides of her.

"I was shocked. How can one trailer not get burnt? In amongst all these other ones," said Fraser, 59, staring at a photo that showed her home intact among the charred remains of her neighbours' homes in the Boston Flats Community Estates. 

She was among more than 7,000 people forced from their homes as wildfires burned across central B.C. this weekend.

Fraser shared details of the dramatic evacuation during an interview in Kamloops Saturday.

Reduced to rubble

"Across the road, on the other sides, they're all gone. And mine is there," she said.

The mobile home development is located off the intersection of Highway 1 and 97C, between Ashcroft and Cache Creek, in B.C.'s Interior.

Before the fire, it was filled with residents like Fraser — retired people and those seeking a quiet, semi-rural life with some like-minded company. 

"It's a great community. It's friendly and everybody loves everybody else. Neighbours help neighbours. That's what keeps you there," she said. 

"You don't ever worry about anything [there], because it's so quiet and peaceful."

On Friday, it was reduced to rubble. 

The weekend of wildfires in B.C. has forced the evacuation of thousands of people from a variety of municipalities, First Nations communities and rural settlements.

And while there have been many reports of properties damaged or destroyed, there have been no reports of entire settlements being burned to the ground. Except in Boston Flats.

Sherrie Fraser has a home, but no community to go back to. (Chris Corday/CBC)

'I had to go home and save my dog'

Fraser was out at work when the call came on Friday afternoon that her home would be evacuated. A 40-hectare fire south of Ashcroft was growing fast. 

"I didn't think we were going to get burnt down. I honestly thought the fire would miraculously pass us," she said.

Still Fraser went home knowing there was one thing that needed saving if the worst came to pass.

"I had to go home and save my dog and get out of town," she said, holding her three-year-old Shih Tzu, Ricky. 

"The police tried to stop me, and I insisted I was going in to save my dog."

A wildfire burns on a mountain behind an RV park office in Cache Creek in the early morning hours on Saturday. (Darryl Dyck/CP)

With Ricky in tow, Fraser drove east to Kamloops on Friday evening along with more than 1,000 other people evacuated from Cache Creek and the surrounding area. 

The 40-hectare fire soon grew to 4,000 hectares — nearly ten times the size of Vancouver's Stanley Park. 

 "It was unbelievable," said Cache Creek Mayor John Ranta. 

"I watched the fire come from the south from the hillside, to the west of the community, being driven by very strong winds, and watched it candle through," Ranta said.

After the flames passed through, a few people took photos of what remained Saturday morning. Altogether 30 homes in the community were destroyed, with up to four left standing, including Fraser's.

"We're alive and we're OK. Everyone in the trailer park got out OK. There's nobody dead. And that's the most important thing, that we're all alive." 

'There's a lot of trauma' 

Fraser was among approximately 600 people who visited the Emergency Centre in Kamloops in the 24 hours after the evacuation order.

"Part of the difficulty is we had so many people show up so quickly," said Gordon Davis, the manager at the centre, where staff and more than 50 volunteers are helping evacuees. 

"Many people left their home immediately, some people saw their homes burst in their flames in front of them," Davis said.

"A lot of trauma, a lot of emotion, and a lot of not knowing what they're going to go back to."

Fraser said it will take weeks to process the fact that her home was spared while others burned.

"Why me? I don't understand … As each minute goes by, it hits me harder. But I'm OK, and I have to keep in my head that I'm OK."