Neighbourhood: City Centre
The McLure fire started July 30 by a discarded cigarette near Highway 5. With no rain in more than six weeks, the pine needles were extremely brittle and dry, allowing the flames to travel quickly.
Due to the amount of smoke generated by the blaze, at times it was very difficult for fire crews to determine the fire’s actual size. Highway 5 was closed to all but emergency personnel as up to 1,000 fire fighters struggled to contain the blaze.
To help facilitate the evacuation of residents in the surrounding area, the McLure Ferry ran 24 hours a day for three weeks. Hundreds of power poles burned, leaving towns as far away as McBride without full power for weeks.
Phones were dead and then intermittent for many days. Seventeen kilometres of Schedule 2 fencing was completely vapourized.
The concrete box beam bridge over Fishtrap Creek was burned beyond repair. Many homes were completely lost in a matter of minutes as the firestorm exploded up Highway 5 along the North Thompson River.
A small fire on Wednesday evening had turned into a massive inferno by Friday, destroying the Tolko sawmill at Louis Creek and most of the homes in the area. It is a truly devastating sight, seeing the loss of people’s homes and businesses.
The Strawberry Hill fire started in the afternoon of August 1. The fire was only the size of a pickup truck and within five to 10 minutes grew to the size of a football field. The dry sage was no rival for the fierce fires.
This large “second fire” occurred along Highway 5 near Kamloops, placing many homes, ranches and grazing areas in the precarious position of being between the fires. Evacuation orders were issued almost immediately by the RCMP on bullhorns announcing: “The fire is here now! You must leave now!”
Both Ministry of Transportation staff and Argo staff were evacuated, and the District Manager, being one of the evacuees, spent the night in the district parking lot. This event caused the immediate evacuation of residents in and around the Raleigh and Heffley Creek area.
The fires came within 150 feet of people’s homes. Not only were people affected, but the impact on the wildlife was staggering.