Aircraft fight the Gustafsen Wildfire. Bob Grant photo.

Fire Fight: 2017 Wildfires from Ashcroft to Lac la Hache

Read about the experiences of firefighters, ranchers, officials, homeowners and more

Intro Chapter 1
Heating Up
Chapter 2
New Ground
Chapter 3
Inferno
Chapter 4
Smoke Clears
Marcelle Ried
108 Fire Chief

“I was at work Thursday morning and I got a text from somebody saying that there looks like something is happening behind the OSB plant,” says 108 Fire Chief Marcelle Ried.

The oriented strand board (OSB) plant is located to the northwest of 100 Mile House, barely within city limits, and is a major employer for the town of 1,886.

Within five minutes there was a call to the fire department for mutual aid. A small tower of smoke was immediately visible and started building so quickly that calls came in from communities dozens of kilometres away.

By mid-afternoon on July 6, high winds were carrying the fire away from the District of 100 Mile House and towards 700 homes in 108 Mile Ranch. Come 6 p.m., tactical evacuations were occurring. Before the night was over, the fire would grow to more than 500 hectares.

Long traffic lines formed on the highway, mixed with people riding horses to safety in front of a backdrop of an orange wall of smoke with glimpses of candling trees and emergency personnel in large gas masks.

A helicopter dropping water near a house in the southern portion of the Elephant Hill fire. Matti J Lagerbom photo.

Some ranchers would choose to defy evacuation orders and stay behind in the midst of thick smoke. They would come face to face with the fire to try and save their livelihoods, homes and animals. Others would throw open their gates and leave dogs, cattle and sheep, as well as their lives behind, left with hoping for the best as their only option.Within days, the fire would turn back and head for the 100 Mile House townsite.

“When I came up to the crest of the hill I was like, ‘Holy smokes.’ It was bad. You couldn’t see nothing. You could see the flames on the west side but the rest was just smoke. It was like being in a bad movie. Ash was flying across the highway. There was RCMP. It was just chaos,” says Ried.

A week of record breaking fires across the interior of British Columbia had not yet passed. Before the summer was over, the Elephant Hill wildfire that began the same day further south near Ashcroft would grow to more than 33 times the size of the fire near 100 Mile House.

It was a firefight that would consume the summer, threatening communities, homes and livelihoods before autumn rains would quell the flames.

Just Posted

New wildfire discovered east of Gustafsen Lake

Lightning is the suspected cause of a new wildfire near 100 Mile House

100 Mile House District Council initiates Community Transition support after Norbord announcement

‘We are going to do everything we can to make sure 100 Mile House is resilient as a community’

Community-wide Art Crawl celebrates art and culture in the South Cariboo

The self-guided Art Crawl will run from June 21 - July 1

108 Mile’s Annual Pig Roast sees a good turnout

Over $4000 raised at third Annual Pig Roast

10 facts about Father’s Day

Did you know that the special day for dads was first celebrated in 1910?

Bombers down B.C. Lions 33-23 in season opener

Former Lion Andrew Harris leads Winnipeg with 148 rushing yards

Northern B.C. family remembers murdered Indigenous woman with memorial walk

Still no closure for Ramona Wilson’s family 25 years later

New wildfire discovered east of Gustafsen Lake

Lightning is the suspected cause of a new wildfire near 100 Mile House

B.C. university to offer mentorship program for former youth in care

Students using the provincial tuition waiver program will soon be able to form a community at KPU

Cyclists competing in one of the toughest bike races on the planet pass through Fernie

Divide riders looking strong as they finish first leg of 4160 km race

You might not know these B.C. records are public

Hired a lawyer to file a civil claim? Those are published online

B.C. bus driver loses case to get job back after texting while driving full bus

An arbitator ruled that Tim Wesman’s phone usage was a “a reckless disregard for public safety”

B.C. Interior First Nation family ‘heartbroken’ over loss of young mom

RCMP have released no new information since the June 8, 2019 homicide

Most Read