Bonaparte evacuation order lifted, though some never left

By Vanessa Ybarra
July 21, 2017 - 5:45pm

BONAPARTE, B.C. — More evacuees have been able to return home in the Interior.

Properties immediately adjacent to Highway 97 from Cache Creek all the way to Highway 24 were allowed to return home Thursday night.

This includes the Bonaparte Indian Band.

However turns out many of the homes that were told to evacuate never left in the first place.

Bonnie Dupois is among a small handful of Bonaparte residents who decided to hunker down and hope for the best.

"We stayed because of the area we're in," said Dupois. "It's rather secure and there's green all around us."

Charred soil remains atop the hillside behind Dupois home where the Elephant Hill fire spread from one end to the other within minutes.

"It was just overhwleming, " said Dupois. "Watching and not knowing where it was going to go next. It was just really overwhelming to watch."

Lucky for Dupois and her husband the fire never came down close enough to threaten their home.

While the Elephant Hill fire continues continue to travel, at last report measuring approximetly 56,200 hectares, Kamloops Fire Centre officials say it is continuing to move north east away from Bonaparte and other communities outside Cache Creek.

"I'm so, so relieved," said Dupois.

Margaret Billy and her husband James Pierro belong to the BonaparteIndian Band. 

They too decided to stay in an effort to try and protect their home as well the bands community hall that's currently being used to house supplies for returning evacuees.

"We decided to stay," said Billy. "The rez guys came and saved the whole community. I'm so proud of them."

Pierro was among the dozens of Bonaparte band members who grabbed buckets and hoses to help firefighters put out flames creeping within feet of their community hall.

"We all pitched in togetheer one way or another," said Pierro. "I'm really proud of the members of the Bonaparte Indian Band for not just sitting there and watching. They got up and fought."

Still Pierro's uncles home and a few others in Bonaparte were destroyed by fire.

All but three units in the Boston Flats trailer park south of Cache Creek were also destroyed.

While Dupois and the rest of the homes residents along Highway 97 remain on alert, their focus has slowly returned to everyday routines and hobbies.

For people like Dupois, their view is a forever reminder of a summer they'll never forget.

"We got through it," said Dupois. "People have come home, it's good that everything is safe. Our hearts go out to the people who lost their home."

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