LYTTON (NEWS 1130) — Chester Chappis is one of over a thousand survivors who are learning their town of Lytton, along with their homes, have been destroyed because of a devastating wildfire.
With just the clothes on his back, Chappis has had to make his way to an evacuation centre in Merritt.
“I had minutes to pack my belongings. There’s a lot that I didn’t get to. I just had minutes literally. The fire was just 100 feet away when we got out. As we were leaving, the smoke was just crazy,” he describes. “The highway was just so busy, and you could just see the panic on everybody’s face.”
Now, Chappis says he is trying to process the situation, which he describes as ‘unreal.’
“I had my own house, and now I’m getting hospitality from random places. I don’t know. It’s pretty hard.”
‘[I’m] trying to get just through this period right now…It’s all I can do because I’m officially homeless,” he says, adding those are words that “didn’t taste very good.”
For the time being, Chappis adds he’s grateful for the “light being shed on our darkness” thanks to everyone who has helped provide shelter and food.
He says he’s also finding comfort in being around people from his community. “Because we’re all going through this together.”
“At least for a week, [I’m] just [going to] get comfortable and talk with the people and let it out. We all got something to say. And we all got tears to shed.”
Clapp is hoping conditions improve in Lytton in the coming days so he can see if his home somehow is left standing.
He says his family members are going to Kelowna but he isn’t sure what the future holds for him.
Meanwhile, the Lytton Chinese History Museum has been completely destroyed.
The owners say they are “devastated” as the building housed over 1600 artifacts, archives, and library books.
People online are sharing their sadness at the loss of a treasured fixture in the community.
The fire burning near Lytton has grown to 83 square kilometres in size, with the wildfire service saying new mapping has highlighted the spread of the blaze.
– With files from The Canadian Press