Okanagan residents still in disbelief over Lytton tragedy; working to help with relief | iNFOnews | Thompson-Okanagan's News Source

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Okanagan residents still in disbelief over Lytton tragedy; working to help with relief

A fire has destroyed 90% of the Village of Lytton.
Image Credit: FACEBOOK/2 Rivers Remix Society
July 03, 2021 - 3:00 PM

Okanagan residents are all too familiar with the harsh realities of fire season but the disaster in Lytton is hitting hard, prompting some to reflect on their connection to the historic town and others to dig deep to try to help.

Lake Country Mayor James Baker was born in Lytton in 1941 and stayed in the community until he graduated and attended Simon Fraser University.


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

“I couldn’t believe it,” he said when a friend called and told him the news the town was on fire. “I couldn’t imagine but indeed it was.”

“It was a great place to grow up, lots of fishing and lots of recreation,” he said.

He said the fire spread into the part of the valley where his great-grandfather had a ranch. 

The fire reminded him of one his family experienced in 1949.

“Lytton had a big fire in 1949. It burned a restaurant down and it started at a store about two blocks away from us and stopped just after it burned the apartment building next to us,” he said, adding about five businesses were destroyed, but it was nothing like the fire now.

READ MORE: Lytton, B.C., wildfire grows as others force evacuations in another region

The events happening in Lytton have prompted an outpouring of support for evacuees from across the province.

Mike Otto, a West Kelowna trucker, is currently collecting donations today, July 3 at 1400 Industrial Road in West Kelowna, of household items, food, water, camping gear and clothing for victims of Lillooet and Lytton wildfires.

Several online fundraisers have also been started for the wildfire victims.

This weekend's forecast will likely bring no relief to the Southern portion of B.C. and the hot, dry forest fuels due to the weather will continue to hamper firefighting efforts, said Cliff Chapman, director of provincial operations with the B.C. Wildfire Service, in a press conference yesterday, July 2.

The forecasted unusually hot weather and winds will also challenge firefighting efforts.

As of yesterday, 79,000 hectares of land has been burned this season, and through the weekend it will likely reach closer to 100,000 hectares, Chapman said.

Chief coroner Lisa Lapointe said during the press conference the B.C. Coroners Service is investigating after it received two preliminary reports of fire-related fatalities near Lytton.

"We have sent a coroner's team. They are standing by, it's not safe to enter the area and once they receive the approval to go through the site, they will do that and they conduct their investigation and at that point we will be able to confirm, officially, if there are fatalities," she said.

The Village of Lytton was almost completely destroyed by fire June 30 and B.C. Wildfire Service says the blaze has grown since Friday night to 83 square kilometres in size. New mapping highlighted the spread of the fire.

To contact a reporter for this story, email Carli Berry or call 250-864-7494 or email the editor. You can also submit photos, videos or news tips to the newsroom and be entered to win a monthly prize draw.

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