British Columbia Wildfire Routs RV Park Guests

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July 29, 2010 by   - () Leave a Comment

Kamloops, British Columbia, resident Andrea Wilson hung up the phone, then ran outside into the yard of the Riverview RV and Mobile Home Park and started banging on the closed doors of the park's trailer units.

An aggressive wildfire was headed their way and there wasn't much time. Already the blaze was closing in. Etched against the dark sky, Wilson, the manager of the park on the east side of Kamloops, said the flames looked like lava, The Province reported.

"I said, 'There's a fire coming. Pack up what you can and be ready to move on a [moment's] notice,'" Wilson told The Province Wednesday. "My main concern was to get everyone and their pets out of here safely."

Shortly before Wilson's friend called to warn her about the advancing flames, Sherry Brimacombe, who lives on Uplands Court, was getting out of bed when she saw a bright spot through her bedroom window.

The flames looked to be in the same area, just off Todd Road, which was the source of another large wildfire last year. She got on the phone and called 911. She then started calling her neighbours.

Soon, about 25 of the street's residents were out battling side by side with garden hoses the fast-moving flames which were edging dangerously close to some of their properties.

"It moved pretty damn fast," said Brimacombe. "Anybody who was awake was definitely out."

The events described by Wilson and Brimacombe stem from Tuesday night's wildfire in Kamloops, which forced the 1 a.m. evacuation of Wilson's mobile park and kept several hundred city residents on evacuation notice through Wednesday.

Firefighters worked tirelessly throughout the night digging guards and battling the blaze, first spotted around 9:40 p.m. off of Todd Road in the city's Barnhartvale area. The fire was initially small in size, but strong winds and dry conditions allowed flames to grow quickly and move west, threating residential properties and the Pineridge Golf Course.

Brimacombe said firefighters were quick to respond to the flames and were soon on her street to take over the firefighting duties.

Air tankers were dispatched early Wednesday, and the evacuation order was lifted before noon, allowing residents of the Riverview RV and Mobile Home Park to return home.

The evacuation alert remained in effect for certain areas all of Wednesday.

By evening, the fire had been 85% contained, said Kamloops Fire and Rescue, although up to 53 firefighters remained on scene to deal with hot spots. No damage to properties had been reported.

In total, Guertin said 13 firefighters from Kamloops Fire and Rescue, two 20-unit crews from the British Columbia Forestry Service, five helicopters, two bush trucks, and two water tankers worked on the fire throughout the day.

Meanwhile, the latest map issued Wednesday by the British Columbia Forest Service showed the fire-danger rating as high or extreme across most of the province.

Late Wednesday, air tankers were battling another wildfire  on the southeast corner of Bonaparte Lake, about 40 miles north of Kamloops.

"We've just issued evacuation orders for both the east and west side of the lake," said Liz Cornwell, information officer with the Thompson-Nicola Regional District.

RCMP are evacuating within a one-mile surrounding the entire lake, said Cornwell, adding that there are about 60 properties around the lake, and an estimated 100-125 residents.

The fire is currently not threatening the town of Barriere, 14 miles from the lake.

Another conflagration, the Jade wildfire in Yalakom Valley, jumped to 1,000 hectares Wednesday morning and remained at about 15% contained by evening.

An estimated 125 firefighters, eight helicopters and 10 heavy-equipment units are working the fire, which was ignited July 21 by a lightning strike.

Fire information officer Garry Horley said firefighters managed to secure some ground, which has allowed them to move more equipment into the area.

An evacuation alert issued by the Squamish-Lillooet Regional District remains in effect for Yalakom Valley.

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