British Columbia

Witness to Monte Lake wildfire believes flicked cigarette butt to blame

Darcy Lynn didn't see who flicked the cigarette butt out of a car driving in front of hers but she's convinced that's what started the Monte Lake wildfire near Kamloops.

Darcy Lynn tried to put out the fire at the side of the road but it grew fast and now covers 150 hectares

Close to 60 properties have been evacuated and dozens more have been put on evacuation alert. (Tina Lovgreen/CBC)

Darcy Lynn didn't see who flicked the cigarette butt out of a car driving in front of hers.

But she did witness the immediate aftermath: grass at the side of Highway 97 bursting into flames igniting the Monte Lake wildfire southeast of Kamloops which has now grown to 150 hectares.

The Monte Lake wildfire is now 150 hectares. (Tina Lovgreen/CBC)

"We came around the corner from Monte Lake and saw a puff of smoke, and as we got closer, we saw flames erupt," said Lynn.

"We pulled over and grabbed all the extra water bottles in our van and ran back and started trying to put it out near the side of the road, but the wind picked up and whooshed the fire right up the hill. It caught the fence on fire, and then moved back into the trees and the trees started to candle."

Lynn said the entire scene unfolded in mere seconds.

"It was insane," she said.

The Monte Lake fire may have been started by a cigarette butt flicked out a car window. (Tina Lovgreen/CBC)

"I ran back to my vehicle ... and tried calling *5555. I waited on hold for a minute and seven seconds, which felt like a lifetime, so I hung up and called 911 and reported the fire to them. 

"By the time I got off the phone with 911, we had to leave because the fire was just moving. It was moving toward my van and my kids were in the van."

Highway 97 is now open to single lane alternating traffic. (Tina Lovgreen/CBC)

Lynn has no concrete proof the fire was started by a cigarette butt, but she says it's the only thing that makes sense.

"The fire was literally two feet from the road," she said. "I don't get how people don't get it."

According to the Thompson-Nicola Regional District, 58 properties around Monte Lake have been ordered evacuated and dozens of others are on evacuation alert.

Highway 97 has now opened to single alternating traffic, according to DriveBC.

With files from Daybreak Kamloops