Over 100 animals left behind: B.C. wildfire evacuee on the toughest part of fleeing home
It's been almost two and a half weeks since Lynn Landry and her husband were evacuated from their ranch on Tad Lake, near 100 Mile House, B.C. Yesterday, the evacuation order for 100 Mile House was lifted and they are now anxiously awaiting the green light to head home. Landry says the toughest part of fleeing her home has been leaving her animals behind.
Listen to her conversation with Checkup host Duncan McCue:
Duncan McCue: Any word on when you'll be able to get back home?
Lynn Landry: We're about 20 minutes away from our home and we are not allowed in. We don't know when we'll be able to get home. Apparently, the power is on and there's water again, but there's some spot fires and they have said ours is a danger area - so we're still not allowed to get back in.
DM: You've been gone two and half weeks now, what's been the toughest part of being away so long?
LL: Worrying about the guardian dogs and our sheep and just moving. We moved to town, then got evacuated from town and and had to move somewhere else and got evacuated from there. It's just the stress - the up and down of never knowing where we're going to be and how long it's going to be. We're travelling with four border collies with us and at home, we've left a 100 sheep and two guardian dogs and our cattle and our barn cat.
They allowed us to go in two days later and just open all the gates so the sheep could get to the water and get to the feed. And the guardian dogs would never leave the sheep, so that was our concern. We left a big bag of dog food and the SPCA went in and fed them again and the neighbours were in there. They've made sure that the dogs have been getting feed every few days.
DM: Can you tell me about the day that you had to evacuate?
LL: We heard that there was a fire in town and we weren't not taking it seriously, but not really taking it seriously. We could see the big pillar of smoke and we were just out on our ranch and then by evening, the whole ridge went from smoke to flames. It was like a freight train went right through your house. It was absolutely unbelievable – the noise. Our next door neighbour called and said they were leaving and we were all out of there in about an hour and half or so. Everybody checked that everybody was out and the police were coming down the driveway as we were leaving.
DM: You've checked on your home, what about other homes in your area?
LL: Both our neighbours' homes burnt to the ground. Ours didn't. It was right in the middle. So I guess the fire went around and left us in the middle. So we're standing, but they aren't. There were four other structures in the 105 area that also burned down.
DM: You mentioned you have animals – a hundred sheep and two guardian dogs. How are they doing?
LL: I heard some workers in the area shared their lunch with the dogs, so I guess the dogs are doing fine. And the sheep are fine; they will stay with the dogs. As long as the dogs are alive, the sheep will be fine. If something happened to the dogs, then the coyotes would kill the sheep. We haven't seen the cattle. I'm sure they're fine; they're somewhere in the bush, but we haven't seen them at all.
DM: It must be very difficult to leave animals behind?
LL: It is, but what can you do? You can't load them into your car. We went to go back the next day with a trailer, but it was too hot and we weren't allowed to go back in to bring them out.
DM: It does get very hot in the B.C. interior, but have you seen anything like this before?
LL: No, never in my life. I've lived here 41 years and I've never seen anything like this. Everybody in the town has just been fabulous. Everybody knows everybody in a small town, but everybody is trying to help and they're concerned about the dogs as well. It's just been great. Everybody has been trying to pull together and make sure that everybody's animals are safe.
DM: What advice would you give to others who are unable to return home?
LL: We're just depending on our friends and our family and we're just keeping our chins up. I'm going to be volunteering at the centre tomorrow in town because I can't get home so I'm just trying to keep busy until we're allowed to get back into the house.
Duncan McCue and Lynn Landry's comments have been edited and condensed. This online segment was prepared by Ilina Ghosh on July 24, 2017.