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Deka Lake fire grows to 200 hectares, evacuees hope homes are saved

Update : Firefighters continue to battle a blaze southwest of Deka Lake, which has grown to 200 hectares in size.
Jance Dent moved to Deka Lake just this year and said this wildfire evacuation is quite the welcome. (Patrick Davies photo - 100 Mile Free Press)

Update: Firefighters continue to battle a blaze southwest of Deka Lake, which has grown to 200 hectares in size.

The fire, which prompted an evacuation order Thursday, is considered to be out of control.

“Increased fire activity is expected today and will likely produce smoke that will be highly visible in the area,” according to the B.C. Wildfire Service. “Heavy equipment is working to establish a fireguard on the southeast corner of the fire perimeter while crews work to establish a hose lay.”

Forty firefighters, three helicopters and five pieces of heavy equipment are involved in fighting the blaze.

Earlier story:

Deka Lake residents hope that when the fires are over their homes will be waiting for them.

100 Mile RCMP, with support from 100 Mile Fire Rescue, South Cariboo Search and Rescue Society and the Deka Lake and District Volunteer Fire Department, went door to door Thursday, issuing an evacuation order by the Cariboo Regional District. The order required them to leave immediately “due to immediate danger to life safety due to fire.”

The order, which applies to 679 homes and properties, is in response to a 70-hectare fire southwest of Deka Lake. Some 48 firefighters, one helicopter and one piece of heavy equipment are battling the blaze, according to the BC Wildfire Service.

Staff-Sgt. Svend Nielsen said the evacuation has proceeded fairly calmly and in an organized manner. A steady stream of vehicles, many hauling trailers, were seen leaving the area via Highway 24 and heading for the Emergency Support Services reception area set up at the South Cariboo Rec Centre in 100 Mile House.

The evacuees, which included a line-up of people of all ages with their pets and belongings, are required to register with ESS.

This is the first time Janice Dent has had to evacuate as she only became a resident of the community in April. “We just heard there was an evacuation alert last night. There was quite a bit of ash falling from the sky and then this morning I got some texts saying you’re under evacuation,” Dent said. “Then we heard sirens and the RCMP were driving around telling everyone to leave.”

She and her husband packed up some stuff and joined the queue of people leaving town. Although she felt the evacuation had gone well as the RCMP had made sure to reach and inform everyone, she was worried because they had to leave their “toys” behind, including a sports car and motorbike.

“We’re praying everything is still intact when this is all over.”

READ MORE: UPDATE: Evacuation order issued for Deka Lake due to Cariboo wildfires

Martin Peterson, another first-time evacuee, said he and his wife didn’t have any time to pack and decided to grab what they could and throw it in their car. They left with an empty cooler, some bedding, clothes and their cat but not much else.

“So if our house is there when we get back, great. If not, well, we’ll see what we can do,” Peterson said.

Peterson said he was in the area during the 2017 wildfires but never got evacuated. Thankfully, some friends had opened up their house to them so they had somewhere to go.

100 Mile fire chief Roger Hollander said that while he recognizes the evacuation is inconvenient and unfortunate for residents, he felt its timing was positive. Being able to evacuate people safely ahead of potential danger was much better than waiting until it was too late and having to fight the fire at the same time.

“The evacuation went very well. There are so many people here in the Deka Lake subdivision that were extremely cooperative and understood what was going on,” Hollander said. “We certainly appreciate that, it makes the job a lot easier.”

Hollander reminds those who have evacuated to make sure they register with the ESS’s reception centre so the CRD can keep track of the number of evacuees. Anyone with questions or who needs to register can call the ESS at 587-645-4842.

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Around 40 Deka Lake residents of all ages wait outside of the Cariboo Regional District’s Emergency Support Services reception area at the South Cariboo Rec Centre after being evacuated Thursday afternoon. (Patrick Davies photo - 100 Mile Free Press)

Patrick Davies

About the Author: Patrick Davies

An avid lover of theatre, media, and the arts in all its forms, I've enjoyed building my professional reputation in 100 Mile House.
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