Photos of the wildfire burning around Loon Lake, B.C., July Photo credit: Shawn Cahill. ORG XMIT: hvcApULVnZE_kI8zLLKu [PNG Merlin Archive]

More B.C. residents head home

Evacuation order lifted after B.C. wildfire destroys dozens of homes in Loon Lake

Hundreds of people are being allowed to return to Loon Lake, B.C., more than a month after flames forced them from their homes and destroyed dozens of buildings in the community.

The Thompson-Nicola Regional District lifted an evacuation order for 309 properties in the area, but an alert remains in place, warning residents that they may need to leave again on a moment’s notice.

The evacuation order was issued in mid July when a fire threatened the community, located about 130 kilometres northwest of Kamloops in B.C.’s Interior.

About 40 structures were destroyed by the flames, including vacation properties and permanent homes, said Megan Gregory, an information officer with the regional district.

In late July, local authorities released footage taken by a drone flying over an area devastated by the flames. The video shows the crumpled remains of homes, the metal skeletons of vehicles, piles of ash and blackened trees.

“The landscape, from pictures people have been sharing, has significantly changed,” Gregory said.

A meeting was held Sunday morning to give returning residents information on what they can expect to see and how to deal with some of the things they may encounter, including spoiled food and fridges that must be disposed of.

Overall, people are excited to return, Gregory said.

“From their interactions online and being part of some of their Facebook chats, they’re a great group of people and they’re so happy to be going home.”

A lifted evacuation order is great news, but there are things residents need to remember as go home, said Chris Duffy with Emergency Management BC.

“We want to remind people as they’re returning to their communities to be patient and respect the direction of first responders, local authorities, fire crews and the RCMP that are working in and around their community to keep them safe,” he said.

About 3,800 people around the province remain displaced by the flames and another 9,700 are on evacuation alert.

In addition to the evacuation alert in Loon Lake, an area restriction remains in place, which prohibits the public from entering the vicinity.

Kevin Skrepnek, chief information officer for the BC Wildfire Service, said the ban is in place because fire crews are active in the area and hazards like damaged trees could remain in the fire’s wake.

“Loon Lake itself is in the heart of where the fire did burn,” Skrepnek said.

It was one of 137 fires still burning in B.C. Sunday, he added, but the flames are moving away from Loon Lake.

“It’s seldom an area will burn twice. It depends on how thoroughly it burned through that area, but generally, once a fire has gone through, it won’t go back,” Skrepnek said.

More than 1,000 fires have burned across B.C. since April 1, scorching about 9,000 square kilometres.

Scattered showers were seen across parts of the province over the weekend, but Skrepnek said people shouldn’t get complacent because of the rain.

“By no means, has this rain done much to really alleviate our situation right now,” he said.

The Canadian Press

Just Posted

UPDATED: Gunfire erupts in quiet Langley neighbourhood early this morning

Police have 79A Avenue cordoned off after reports of shots just before 5 a.m.

PHOTOS: Langley City residents given audience with council and staff

Mayor and councillors share successes and plans, while listening to public at three City meetings.

Langley Spartans enjoy multiple wins and a tie Friday

First-year rookie puts five points on the scoreboard for Trinity Western’s Spartans.

Langley’s own Vancouver Giants fall in Prairies during overtime

G-Men fell 6-5 to the Brandon Wheat Kings Friday night.

Body located near Langley fire

A corpse was found near a mall off the Langley Bypass Friday morning.

VIDEO: Sears liquidation sales continue across B.C.

Sales are expected to continue into the New Year

WATCH: 10,000 signatures gained to stop ‘no pets’ rental policy

Pets OK BC said about 1,700 animals were surrendered to the BC SPCA last year due to housing issues

Silver Creek reacts after remains found, man arrested

Neighbours of property where remains were found say man arrested was sweet and polite

VIDEO: Oprah Winfrey and a celebrities attend ‘B.C. Miracle Concert’

Fundraiser featured Foster, Steven Tyler, The Tenors, Matteo Bocelli, Laura Bretan, Carly Rae Jepsen

Human remains found at Silver Creek property

RCMP have been searching the property in the 2200 block of Salmon River Road for the past three days

New B.C. acute care centre opens for young patients, expectant mothers

Facility aims to make B.C. Children’s Hospital visits more comfortable

Search ramps up for B.C. woman after dog, car found near Ashcroft

Jenny Lynn Larocque’s vehicle and dog were found in Venables Valley, but there is no sign of her

Holy Heritage Rail Batman: Superheros come to Cloverdale historic train

The Fraser Valley Heritage Rail is hosting its third annual Halloween rail adventure Oct 28, 29

Police officer hit by car, stabbed in Edmonton attack back on job

Const. Mike Chernyk, 48, returned to work Thursday

Most Read