30+ homes destroyed near Cache Creek, entire village evacuated

By James Peters / Chad Harris
July 7, 2017 - 5:33pm Updated: July 7, 2017 - 8:11pm

CACHE CREEK, B.C. — The Mayor of Cache Creek says more than 30 homes have already been lost in the fire ravaging the Ashcroft-Cache Creek area.

John Ranta, who is also the chair of the Thompson-Nicola Regional District, says the 700-hectare blaze is rapidly approaching the community.

An evacuation order was issued for the entire Village of Cache Creek, in addition to several areas further south toward Ashcroft, where the blaze was sparked.

Ranta was still at his home when he spoke to CFJC Today.

"The RCMP were just at the door and they're going door-to-door in the community, advising people to leave. The fire department, as well, is being evacuated, so what they tell me is, if something goes sideways here, there will be nobody here to help."

"It's a serious situation," said Ranta, his voice wavering slightly. "I would encourage the people that live here in the community to take very seriously the evacuation order. From my front yard, I can see flames moving toward the north, toward the community. It's on the hillside, just adjacent to Highway 1."

"We've got water bombers that are dropping retardant right here wtihin the community. Everybody is doing everything they can to ensure the safety and health of the people that live in the community."

The blaze ignited last night on the Ashcroft Reserve, but took off this afternoon, moving north toward nearby Cache Creek.

Dozens of firefighters with air support are scrambling to contain the flames, but scorching temperatures and gusty winds are making that task nearly impossible.

While it's hard to get a handle on how many structures have already been lost, Ranta says the total is significant.

"We feel very badly for the people who have lost their homes. There are more than 30 homes that have been lost, either mobile homes or houses. A couple of hangars at the airport along with their contents. It's just a very serious situation."

The wildfire is the latest blow for a community that has seen more than its share of adversity in recent years.

In May of 2015, much of the village was submerged under a flash flood caused by a violent rainstorm.

Then in May of this year, Cache Creek Fire Chief Clayton Cassidy disappeared while inspecting flood protection measures in the community.

Cassidy's body was found in Cache Creek itself on May 27, about three weeks after he disappeared.

Ranta says his community is resilient, and will carry on.

"Wildfires are very frightening events. I'm optimistic we have a resilient community and when we're through this, we will emerge," said Ranta.

"Keep us in your thoughts and prayers, and hopefully we'll emerge from this a healthier community in the long run."


6:45PM UPDATE: An out-of-control wildfire has led to an evacuation of the Village of Cache Creek.

The TNRD confirms an evacuation order for Cache Creek was issued at 4:15 Friday afternoon.

The evacuation was triggered by the Ashcroft Reserve wildfire that has ballooned from just two hectares early Friday afternoon to more than 700 hectares.

Residents have been asked to register an emergency services centre set up at the McArthur Island Sports Lounge in Kamloops.

"There is imminent threat, which is the purpose of the order," said Emergency Operations Centre spokesperson Debbie Sell. "If it was more just to put people on alert, or let them know that there was a potential, then it would just be an evacuation alert. So we are asking all residents to evacuate from the village."

"To support them, we have set up a reception centre here in Kamloops at McArthur Island Park, in the Sportsplex Lounge. All residents are encouraged to leave their properties and come and register at the reception centre."

A photo sent to the CFJC Today shows the fire beginning to envelope the Boston Flats Community Estates mobile home park between Ashcroft and Cache Creek.

Facebook has activated a "Safety Check" for those in the immediate area.

CFJC Today will bring you continued updates throughout the evening....

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