LOON LAKE, B.C. — The residents of Loon Lake are back home and are getting a first-hand picture at some of the devastation.
Harold Allen has clean-up ahead of him after his cabin along Loon Lake, which used to welcome family from the Lower Mainland, was destroyed.
"A lot of memories in that pile of ash," he said. "However, memories can remain in your mind, and that's good."
The TNRD says 40 structures were lost when the fire came through the area in early July, including the Loon Lake Volunteer Fire Hall. Many of the cabins and homes along Loon Lake, however, have been spared.
Allen was fortunate that his permanent residence across the street is still intact. Down Loon Lake Road, Louise Hanson and her husband are relieved to be home to their place that was untouched as well.
"It's so exciting. I can't even tell you, I want to cry, I'm so happy," she said. "I feel bad for the people that have lost everything. We were fortunate, but I'm just so happy to be home. It's been such a rollercoaster for five weeks and two days."
Louise and Ron spent five weeks in their motorhome that they only recently purchased, staying at Brookside RV Park in Cache Creek. They met dozens of other evacuees there.
The couple drove it into Loon Lake on Sunday afternoon, alongside many other residents that were allowed back home at 1 p.m. But it didn't take long to spot the devastation.
"Pretty overwhelming," said Linda Lennox, owner of the Marigold Resort along Loon Lake. "It was very exciting to be able to come home, but seeing the devastation, some of the mountain side. Our neighbours and our friends who have lost places. It was just overwhelming."
Lennox and her husband, part of the Loon Lake Volunteer Fire Department, run the Marigold Resort and can see burned down cabins on the other side of the lake.
"What you see across the [lake] is a family who's been customers of the Marigold for 50 years, and they've lost it all," she said.
Lennox found out two days after the fire came through that the resort was safe.
"It's here and it's fine," she noted with tremendous relief on his face. "I got my plants growing on my patio. It's bizarre, the contrast with the other side that's burned, and this side isn't."
The residents, even ones who lost property, thanked the firefighters for saving more homes from burning.
"I don't have the words to thank the [Loon Lake] Volunteer Fire Department enough," said Allen. "These guys were in here from the very beginning, and without them there's a lot of these places that would never be standing."
While residents along Loon Lake are back home, they are still on evacuation alert.
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