Kamloops residents recount terrifying night of wildfire and evacuations | iNFOnews | Thompson-Okanagan's News Source

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Kamloops residents recount terrifying night of wildfire and evacuations

The Juniper wildfire in Kamloops, Thursday, July 1, 2021.
Image Credit: FACEBOOK
July 02, 2021 - 1:15 PM

It was a terrifying night for many in Kamloops, especially for those that got a knock on the door from emergency officials telling them to leave as a wildfire threatened their neighbourhoods.

While no homes were lost, many were evacuated last night, July 1, as the Juniper wildfire raged. All the evacuated residents have been told they can return home.

Brandi Lynn lives in the Juniper neighbourhood on Nechako Drive. She was sitting outside at around 10:30 p.m. watching the thunderstorm when she saw a fire truck coming up the road. Then she noticed the smoke.

“The fire had started about 100 feet away from my complex,” Lynn said. “My husband and I ran inside and started packing. I kept checking out my windows to see how big it was getting.”

It took fifteen minutes for Lynn and her husband to pack up some belongings, four children and two cats. She says there were already two fire trucks on the scene as they were driving out and two more passed them as they drove down the hill to safety.

“This is the first time I have ever had to do this and the memory of looking down on the fire out my bedroom window will be burned in my brain forever,” Lynn said. "I just keep thinking if I hadn’t been out there watching the storm it would have been much longer before we got out. The trip was slow getting out, bumper to bumper, but everyone was calm.”

The evacuation order was lifted at about 11:30 p.m., so the family returned home. They got back to their complex and were parking their truck when an officer approached them and told them they had to leave again. The family stayed at their work place and returned home this morning, July, 2.

Juniper resident Kathy Manning lives at the west end of the neighbourhood, about two kilometres away from the wildfire. Her family was watching television when her daughter saw a post on Facebook about the fire. Five minutes later they were packing up to evacuate.

“The road was gridlocked coming off our street,” Manning said. “After approximately 30 minutes and only moving five spots, I called 911 to ask them to open up the Rosehill Connector located at the west end by Galore and Quappelle. The dispatcher asked a bunch of questions and said he did not think anyone had thought of that. A truck came in our direction 40 minutes later and informed us that the road was now open at the west end. We turned around and told each car to go out the back way. We were down the hill in 15 minutes.”

Kamloops resident Brad Taylor was not at home when the fire was raging. He was on a little holiday with his family watching events in the news from afar. His biggest concern was the safety of his two cats.

“My immediate response was to panic about the safety of our two indoor cats,” Taylor said. “They both mean the world to us. My wife and I barely slept at all last night worrying about them.

"This was the scariest thing that we have ever encountered. You hear and read about others’ experiences and you have no idea how scary and real this is and how devastating it could have been. You feel so helpless and there's nothing you can do but pray.”

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