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'Our most special place': family's ranch destroyed by wildfire near Telegraph Creek

File Photo (Courtesy: BC Wildfire Service)

A family ranch in northern BC has been levelled by the Alkali Lake wildfire, but their horses were untouched

While their ranch has been destroyed by wildfire flames near Telegraph Creek. family says emotional loss is greater

TELEGRAPH CREEK (NEWS 1130) – A BC woman says her family is still reeling, after their ranch was destroyed in the 30,000 hectare wildfire burning near Telegraph Creek.

The fire has burned more than 30 structures so far.

Stacey Hanik says she and her family were heading up to her family’s ‘Days Ranch’ — which is about halfway between Dease Lake and Telegraph Creek — last week for some time off. They heard a fire had broken out, but figured it was small and that they would be fine.

It was when they were stopped in the Dease Lake area that they were told Telegraph Creek had been evacuated because of the blaze.

“You know, we had probably half a dozen or better structures on the ranch, and they all burned,” she tells NEWS 1130.

But it’s more than just the financial impact her family now has to deal with.

“It’s a really huge loss for us.”

“All of us grand kids and kids grew up on this ranch, so, sure the cabins can be replaced, but they are kind of irreplaceable.”

She adds her story is just one in a community that has been devastated by fire.

However, there is a silver lining here, she says. All of the horses at the ranch managed to survive.

“Because everybody had to be evacuated so quickly, we weren’t able to get all of our horses,” Hanik says. “My family is a guide outfitting family, so this is our livelihood. If we would have lost our horses, we would have essentially lost our entire business. So when Telegraph was evacuated, we just had to sit there and wait.”

She says the horses weren’t actually on the ranch, but rather were with Hanik’s uncle on his property nearby. The area where his ranch is located managed to escape any destruction from the fires.

After having spent a few days in Dease Lake, Hanik says there was a concern the fire was going to spread to that community as well.

“There was word that it was travelling a kilometre an hour, so Dease wasn’t put on evacuation alert but a lot of people were self-evacuating just because things were moving so quickly.”

That’s when she and her family decided to move to a campsite just outside of Iskut, where property owners put them up for another few days.

After helping family get their belongings together, Hanik, her husband, and their daughter began the long trek back home to Kelowna, where they currently live.

Once things settle, the clean-up will begin.

“I believe my dad has a little bit of insurance, but it’s not really about that. A lot of the dwellings on our ranch have been there for as long as I can remember, probably as long as my dad can remember. I don’t think it’s so much about the financial cost as it is about the memories that were lost.”

She thinks her dad will likely level everything out and let things regrow.

“We have a huge family, and it’s the heart and soul of our family. It’s our most special place, so it was a huge loss.”