The British Columbia village that was nearly fully destroyed by wildfire in 2021 is now under evacuation orders as a quickly growing wildfire once again threatens the area.
Lytton made international headlines last year when a fire engulfed the town, destroying most of the houses and businesses. The fire came days after the village posted record-breaking summer temperatures of 49.6C.
In the months that followed, some residents on the outskirts of the community returned and began the slow process of rebuilding. On Friday morning, however, the British Columbia Wildfire service said the Nohomin Creek fire is out of control and has doubled in size since Thursday evening, growing to 500 hectares. At least 50 residents in the Lytton area have been ordered to evacuate, as have several reserves within the Lytton First Nation.
“We are prepped just in case the unthinkable happens again,” Tricia Thorpe, a Lytton resident, posted on Facebook. She and her husband rebuilt their house after it was destroyed in last year’s fire. They intend to stay, having installed a sprinkler system meant to protect houses from wildfire and confident the fire won’t jump the Fraser River.
The fire is burning on the west bank of the river, across from Lytton. Houses on the west shore of the river, part of the Lytton First Nation Reserve, were largely untouched by the 2021 fire.
“We have three elders that are in the direct line of this fire and we’re working to make sure that they’re safe and that we can get the fire out as soon as possible,” John Haugen, deputy chief of the Lytton First Nation told reporters. “We are experiencing another fire … in the Hell’s Gate area. We have to be prepared for many things on really short notice.”
“The events of 2021 and the impacts to the village of Lytton and the Lytton First Nation are forefront in our minds,” Rob Schweitzer, director of fire centre operations in Kamloops, told reporters.
Helicopters and 60 more firefighters are expected to arrive in the area Friday.