10 feet from home: B.C. grassfire offers stark reminder how quickly blazes burn

Kamloops woman among first people in B.C. to be told to evacuate home this wildfire season

The fast-moving grass fire in Kamloops ended in good news, but is serving as a stark reminder for much of B.C. in how quick a spark could escalate into irreversible devastation.

For Bobbi-Jo Stephenson, the evening started like any other Thursday: Dropping her daughter at soccer practice while her son stayed home, babysitting a family friend’s two children.

“I happened to get a text from my daughter’s friend saying, ‘There is a fire behind your home, and you might get evacuated,’” she told Black Press Media while looking out onto the burnt hillside from her back porch.

Stephenson was able to get in touch with her son, who was panicking from all the smoke.

“As I was talking with him on the phone telling him to go outside, the firefighter happened to be knocking on the door to tell him to get out,” she said. Her son was able to find their neighbour and stay with them until Stephenson got home.

READ MORE: Possibly lightning-caused fire burns within metres of homes in Kamloops

READ MORE: Around 40,000 lightning strikes and over 200 new fires in B.C.

Stephenson’s home was among the 12 that were the first in B.C. to be told to leave their homes this wildfire season.

As quickly as it sparked – lightning is believed to be the culprit – the fire became a significant one for the BC Wildfire Service, reaching 60 hectares at its peak and burning 10 feet away from Stephenson’s backyard.

“It was just like ‘bang,’ it just happened,” Stephenson said. “Today, I realize we could have lost everything. We only had the shirts on our back.”

Officials gained control of the flames later that night.

UNDER EVACUATION: Sleeping in cars and tents

UNDER EVACUATION: Finding the silver lining in an evacuation

Stephenson represents the majority of British Columbians, having never been forced out of her home by a wildfire.

It’s a situation both scientists and government officials say residents should be aware of as an increasing possibility.

Last year, 65,000 people were displaced by roaring wildfires in the B.C. Interior. Some of them had no more than a few minutes to pack up necessities and drive to the nearest evacuation centre.

“My neighbour who grabbed my kids, she had been in firefighting and had a bag packed,” Stephenson said.

READ MORE: What to do during an evacuation

Emergency Info BC suggests having an emergency kid and important documents ready to go in case of an evacuation, as well as several days’ clothing and items for pets.

Moving forward, Stephenson said her family is going to have a plan in case chaos ignites again.


@ashwadhwani
ashley.wadhwani@bpdigital.ca

Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter.

Just Posted

Update: Park pipeline protesters say arrest is a ‘declaration of war’

Led by Kanahus Manuel, the Tiny House Warriors moved into park in Clearwater last week

Police investigating more racist slogans on First Nations signs

Police are investigating racist graffiti being posted on First Nations signs in the Kamloops area

Update: Kamloops wildfire now mapped at 500 hectares

Firefighters worked overnight on what was a fast-growing wildfire east of Kamloops.

France doubles up Croatia 4-2 to win World Cup

Played in Moscow Russia, latest Fifa World Cup marks the highest scoring final since 1966

Extreme mountain trail course opens for business in North Thompson Valley

By Jaime Polmateer / The Times Clearwater’s Smokin’ True Ranch held the… Continue reading

Trudeau asks transport minister to tackle Greyhound’s western pullout

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau says he’s asked Transport Minister Marc Garneau to find solutions in Greyhound Canada’s absence.

Pressure on for ride hailing, bus options in B.C.

Premiers to press Ottawa for help replacing Greyhound service

Usain Bolt to make run at pro soccer in Australia

Olympic sprint great has long expressed his love of the game

Duchess of Sussex wears dress by Calgary’s Nonie to Mandela exhibition

Nonie is believed to be the first Canadian based ready-to-wear designer for the duchess

Amazon’s hopes its Prime Day doesn’t go to the dogs

Shoppers clicking on many Prime Day links after the 3 p.m. ET launch in the U.S. got images of dogs

Trudeau blasts Putin, Russia following Finland summit but stays mum on Trump

Strong words come one day after a controversial summit between Putin and Trump in Finland

Temperature records break across southern B.C. as heat continues

Whistler broke a 70-year-old record high of 32.2 C with a temperature of 32.9 C

Hawaii volcano boat tours continue after ‘lava bomb’ injuries

“An explosion occurred near the shoreline hurling hot lava rocks towards the boat and injuring several passengers.”

Trump returns from summit with Putin to forceful criticism

“Shameful,” ”disgraceful,” ”weak,” were a few of the comments. Makes the U.S. “look like a pushover,” said GOP Sen. Bob Corker of Tennessee.

Most Read