1,000 people evacuated from Lytton area due to fire, some unaccounted for | iNFOnews | Thompson-Okanagan's News Source

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1,000 people evacuated from Lytton area due to fire, some unaccounted for

Premier John Horgan during a press conference, July 1, 2021.
Image Credit: Government of British Columbia
July 01, 2021 - 1:47 PM

Roughly 1,000 people were evacuated from the Lytton area as a fire destroyed most of the town last night, June 30.

Premier John Horgan and Public Safety Ministry Mike Farnworth, with the B.C. Wildfire Service and Emergency Management B.C. held a press conference to provide an update on the current wildfire situation in British Columbia, July 1.

“This has been a very difficult day, and the days ahead will continue to challenge us,” Farnworth said.

READ MORE: 90% of Lytton destroyed by fire, injuries reported

Most homes and structures including the RCMP detachment and B.C. Ambulance Service buildings were lost in the blaze. 

The RCMP and Canadian Red Cross are working to locate those who are not yet accounted for, he said.

Reception centres have been established in Kamloops, Chilliwack, Kelowna and Merritt and more response centres are being established, he said. Many evacuees have settled in surrounding communities.

Farnworth said those looking for missing loved ones can contact the police and local emergency service centres.

The fire is being fought by the Lytton Village Fire Department, the B.C. Wildfire Service and by fire departments from surrounding communities. The fire is roughly 9,000 hectares in size.

He urged evacuees in need of assistance to register online at the Thompson Nicola Regional District Emergency Operations Centre.

Horgan said he spoke with Prime Minister Justin Trudeau this morning and the federal government will be offering its support. The military may be deployed to B.C.

“There was little or no time to warn the community,” Horgan said, adding Lytton’s Mayor Jan Polderman was the first to get the message out for residents to evacuate.

“Within minutes, the city was engulfed,” Horgan said.

In the last 24 hours, 62 new fires have started in B.C., and B.C. has seen 29,000 lighting strikes, he said. The hot weather is expected to continue east into Alberta but temperatures are still intensely hot in the Interior.

“I cannot stress enough how (high) the fire risk is,” he said. “Firefighters are putting their lives on the line to protest us, let us not add to their frustration.”

The cause of the fire is under investigation but Horgan said he has heard some anecdotal evidence the fire was started by a train coming through the community.

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