Evacuee fled barefoot from fierce Lytton wildfire – Coast Mountain News
A woman who escaped a massive forest fire that ravaged the village of Lytton and surrounding First Nations communities says she didn’t even have time to put on shoes before running away.
Noeleen McQuary-Budde says her husband, Lance Budde, returned moments after leaving their house to start escorting a friend home. He shouted that a fire was on them and that they had to go.
McQuary-Budde grabbed his wallet, phone, and two woven birch bark baskets made by his mother and grandmother and ran away.
âThe fire was next to the trees, next to our house. Black smoke was just pouring down Main Street, âshe said in an interview on Friday.
âThe fire was coming from above us and it was coming from below, from the river to the railroad tracks. “
The fire destroyed the village after three consecutive days of record-breaking extreme heat that peaked at 49.6 Â° C, the highest temperature on record in Canada.
McQuary-Budde was among some 1,000 people who managed to escape. A search is underway for an unknown number of missing persons.
She said the heat from the days before the fire combined with the wind blowing through the canyon to make it feel “like you’re walking through a hair dryer.”
McQuary-Budde and her husband hopped into their truck with their 55-kilo Cane Corso dog named Daisy. They would round up 11 other people as they left town. By the time they reached Lillooet, about 45 minutes away, they were sunburned but safe.
âWe made it. We made it,â she said. âI don’t think everyone did.â
She said she was touched by a wave of support from members of the Lillooet community. A woman gave him shoes, other supplies and a hug, she said.
McQuary-Budde said she had not been able to sleep since the fire. She spoke on the phone from Squamish, where she and her husband traveled due to smoke from a forest fire above Lillooet.
Like so many victims of the fire, their future is somewhat uncertain. But she said she planned to visit her daughter in Vancouver on Friday and then visit Nadleh Whut’en, a First Nations community on Fraser Lake, where she grew up.
âThey are mobilizing behind us. Two of the city councilors phoned me yesterday and told me that they had offered us a recently renovated house, âshe said.
“I’m really, really, really grateful for this because I know there are so many people out there who don’t have this.”
McQuary-Budde said she moved to Lytton three years ago and fell in love with the generosity of the close-knit community. If anyone had any more cherries, apples, or salmon, they wouldn’t hesitate to offer them.
“It’s like a big extended family.”
Amy Smart, The Canadian Press
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Wildfires in British Columbia 2021