Trees near Lower Post, B.C., are clouded in forest fire smoke on Aug. 21. (Charun Stone/Submitted)

Fire that caused evacuation of Lower Post, B.C., grows over the weekend

‘It’s brought the community closer. Watson Lake has been great, very understanding, compassionate’

Julien Gignac | News Reporter

Wildfires that have swept through Lower Post, B.C., grew in strength over the weekend, ballooning to about 106,000 hectares.

Adjacent blazes, the Lutz Creek and Blue River fires, merged on Aug. 25, said Peter Goode, fire information officer with B.C. Wildfire Service. A day earlier, each wildfire measured about 6,000 and 60,000 hectares, respectively.

Lower Post is near the Yukon border – Watson Lake, to the northwest, is about 20 kilometres away.

“Eventually they touched together and, for our reasons, (we) put them down as one,” Goode said.

The scale and path of it is at the whim of the weather, he continued, and, in the meantime, it’s a matter of praying for rain.

On Aug. 27, he told the News there are possible incoming showers and southwesterly winds, which would, in theory, push the main head of the fire farther away from town. Ironically, this was the same path that carried it to Lower Post, he continued, from Lutz Creek.

“There’s no guarantee, though,” Goode said. “The weather could change.”

Goode said he couldn’t provide a detailed picture as to how close to town the flames are, but confirmed it’s present in the area to the east.

There are 41 firefighters on the ground, he said, along with four helicopters, three fire engines and three heavy equipment vehicles.

Evacuations were initiated on Aug. 22 by the province – the point of refuge being a recreation centre in Watson Lake.

Doreen Farquharson has been at the Watson Lake Recreation Centre since the afternoon of Aug. 21. She said there are about 70 evacuees at the facility. Many are either sleeping at hotels around town or taken in by friends and family.

“I’m doing fine,” she said. “I take care of the elders. I drive people back and forth from their rooms,” noting that evacuees come to the recreation centre for food and company.

“The emotion, at the beginning, was up-and-down, which was understandable,” Farquharson said, adding that the publication of images of the fire on social media didn’t help to calm already frayed nerves, of elders, particularly.

“A lot of our families prayed. We’re all doing well, healthy,” she said. “It’s brought the community closer. Watson Lake has been great, very understanding, compassionate, especially because of our elders. They don’t understand. They just want to go home.”

Fire isn’t the only danger. Trees burned to a crisp are, too, because they can topple over, she said.

Evacuees will be held in Watson Lake for about another week, Farquharson said.

Her house was spared, she said; one home in Lower Post, however, wasn’t. It was completely destroyed.

Attempts by the News to reach the homeowner by phone were unsuccessful.

“Out of all the homes that’s a blessing,” Farquharson said. “It’s a blessing.”

Contact Julien Gignac at julien.gignac@yukon-news.com

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