People who had to flee a campground last week because of the rapidly spreading Rock Creek wildfire in the southern interior have received some good news.
Hundreds of people were ordered to leave their homes shortly after the wildfire broke out because of the gusty winds, as well as campers at Kettle Creek Provincial park.
At the time, they either sped off in cars or were herded into buses because of an incoming wall of flames, and feared they had lost everything, including trucks, campers, tents and RVs.
But Alan Stanley with the Regional District of Kootenay Boundary says crews discovered the fire had mostly missed the campsite, leaving an untouched scene.
“There was a food cut out on the tables, plates of food, chairs, inflatable swim toys, and (staff) are walking through this and there had been no scavengers or animals, which would normally happen in a campsite obviously but they reported back a pretty eerie scene.”
Two park maintenance vehicles were the only things destroyed.
Stanley says campers were allowed back in Sunday to pack up their belongings and reclaim their vehicles.
Campers heading home, safe and sound
He’s thankful to be heading home.
North Vancouver dad John Merrett was camping near Rock Creek on Friday with several other families when they spotted smoke in the trees.
They decided it was time to head out but the roads were closed.
They abandoned their vehicles and set off on foot, taking two hours to hike to Rock Creek and picking up other people along the way.
By this time the group had grown to about 60.
Merrett says the only other option would have been to take refuge in the river to escape the flames….
“My guess would be in the river, I mean you look at the river there and there are some deep spots to it where you can kind of get up to your shoulders maybe over your head but most of it is ankle to knee deep at best, that would have been the option to jump into the river and hope for the best.”
Added Merrett: “We had enough experience within our own to know that freaking out wasn’t going to help anybody it’s a matter of making the best decision at the time with the information you have and going with it and the kids were awesome they just kept grudging along behind us and they didn’t have any meltdowns like kids do.”
Several toddlers in the group had to be carried out.
Allowed back in today to retrieve their campers and belongings, Merrett says they were shocked to find eveything in tact.
Forest Minister addresses home insurance, drone use
B.C.’s Forests Minister says government will look at what can be done to help those who’ve lost their homes or businesses to the blazes.
Steve Thomson says they will go on a case by case basis.
“Eligibility under the disaster financial assistance is legislated and relief applies when insurance is not available and so we’ll be looking at support programs inside and outside government.”
And on the issue of drones, while Thomson says while the responsibility for aeronautics lies with Transport Canada, and enforcement with the RCMP, he’s seeing if anything can be done provincially.
“This is the second incident we’ve had this year and again it’s just so frustrating when that happens.”
Thomson says investigators are looking into suggestions that fire was caused by a tossed cigarette and there is video of it.
He says so far there is no evidence of that video.