The new details are providing insight into the fire-ravaged area. They were released in an open letter by the Village of Lytton Tuesday night. They give a heartbreaking sense of what the community faces as it prepares to recover from the Lytton Creek Wildfire which ripped through the area a week ago.
“What has not melted, incinerated or damaged beyond repair has been compromised to the point of being unsafe,” officials said.
Evacuees will be able to look at the aftermath in the coming days, with a bus tour now being arranged for Friday. Although it is expected to be very difficult, trauma and grief counseling will be provided.
The observations in the letter also detail the moments before the fire ripped through the community.
“Village staff were alerted when someone banged on the office windows after hours. Staff immediately contacted the Mayor, Jan Polderman, and the Lytton Volunteer Fire Department Fire Hall and found our firefighters were already battling fires,” the letter reads.
Drought conditions in recent months, and a brisk wind, are being blamed by the speed in which the fire spread. It’s believed the homes closest to the river were lost first, before the flames moved at a “ferocious speed” east across the streets of the village. Nearly every home in the centre of the village burned down. A handful of buildings remain across the highway, and the water has been contaminated by fire retardant.
Over the weekend, BC Hydro and Telus crews were able to enter the area to assess the damage. As well as to secure services to protect the safety of first responders. To improve cell service, badly impacted by the fire, Telus also brought in a larger “Communications on Wheels” tower to allow those on the ground a means to communicate with command centres.
The Emergency Operations Center in the village was destroyed as it was located in the Village Office building. Staff have set up a makeshift EOC off site and are operating with a “couple of laptops, an iPad and our cell phones.”
CP Rail and CN Rail were also allowed limited access to the village, to conduct critical fire suppression, and repairs. Access is tightly controlled, according to the letter.
Efforts are also underway to secure finding for clean up and for rebuilding.
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Several people were hurt, and two people died in the fire. Their identities have not been released. The mayor is appealing to residents to check in with RCMP, especially if they knew of any visitors to the area at the time of the fire, who have not been heard from, to ensure that there are no further casualties among the rubble.
“We are Lytton, we are strong and we will rebuild our homes and businesses, rekindle our friendships and community, stronger and more enduring than ever,” the letter ends.