Tearful wildfire victims hoping to get back home soon, thankful for help

By Chad Klassen / Kent Simmonds
July 9, 2017 - 3:30pm

KAMLOOPS — Tears streamed down Ester Spye's face as she talked with Premier Christy Clark and Ashcroft-based Liberal MLA Jackie Tegart, pleading for any help she can get after her house on the Ashcroft Reserve burned down.

"My house was gone," she said. "My neighbour Joey, he's a single man, and his house is gone. But my niece on this and my other niece, they survived. But the houses are not houses, they're just a smokehouse."

Spye barely escaped and didn't have time to grab anything, and when she and neighbours were allowed back to see what was left there was very little, and she couldn't find her cat.

"My cat, he wouldn't come out. I couldn't get him. He was scared," said Spye. "I don't know if he is alive or anything. I haven't been able to go home to see if he's alive or not. I'm hoping. His name is Socks."

Clark toured the evacuation centre at Thompson Rivers University, visiting people and their pets affected from Ashcroft and Cache Creek. 

On Sunday, the province promised to committing $100 million to the Red Cross to help immediately. But with the keys to the government turning over to the NDP on July 17, Clark couldn't guarantee the $100 million moving forward. 

"New government can do anything they want I guess," said Clark. "They could top it up. They could add to it if they wanted. We have spoken to the transition team about it. They're still getting organized, but they were supportive of it. So I don't imagine it will change."

Meantime, more resources are being called in to help relieve crews battling the 240 wildfires burning around the province — 100 of which were ignited on saturday. 

"We know there's going to be about 350 new people coming in from across the country, so that's happening now," noted Clark. "Quebec and other provinces have been extremely helpful in supporting us, and we've been really lucky this time because they haven't been experience lots of fires."

The province has been in touch with Defense Minister Harjit Sajjan, who is willing to provide military resources to help with the wildfire. But there is no word on how many military members would be deployed, if any. 

As for Spye, she's been overwhelmed by the love and support of people and agencies helping all the wildfire victims. 

"I don't even know where I am, whether I'm coming or going. Thank God I got my family. They've helped me a lot. I didn't know where else to go. We're all sticking together as best we can."

Kamloops air quality risk decreased