Wildfire near Lytton, B.C., grows to 1,706 hectares, remains "out of control"

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LYTTON, B.C. — A wildfire nearly two kilometres northwest of Lytton, B.C., has grown to 1,706 hectares, British Columbia's Wildfire Service said Sunday.

It said four unit crews, five initial attack crews, 19 Lytton First Nation firefighters, an incident management team and structure protection personnel are actively working to contain the fire that remains classified as "out of control."

The acting chief of the Lytton First Nation said 30 evacuees were able to briefly return home to salvage food they left behind when the wildfire broke out Thursday.

John Haugen said the fire destroyed six residences and triggered evacuation orders that forced a total of 97 people from his community and about 40 people from neighbouring areas out of their homes.

Haugen said electricity in the region isn't expected to be restored for at least 10 days, and because a timeline for when people may officially return to their properties has yet to be determined, rotting food would create another issue for residents.

"The fire has gone by in some areas so they did have brief access. There is no hydro and if they leave items in freezers the potential is to have rotting meat smells permeate their homes," he said Sunday.

Haugen said one house was saved and firefighters have been doing a "good job."

"There's the potential for a thunderstorm today, and that could help or it could push things in a different direction, so people have to be on guard," he said.

Though he says some of the smoke has diminished, Environment Canada has maintained a special air quality advisory it issued Saturday for the Fraser Canyon due to the fire. It said conditions are expected to last 24 to 48 hours, but the bulletin will be updated again Monday.

This comes just over a year after another wildfire burned down most of Lytton and displaced many residents who have yet to return home.

Provincial Public Safety Minister Mike Farnworth said Friday that neither the village of Lytton nor any other communities are in the fire's path.

Officials say the cause of the blaze is unknown but is being investigated.

This report by The Canadian Press was first published July 17, 2022.

— By Brieanna Charlebois in Vancouver.

The Canadian Press

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