While some of those directly impacted by wildfires are starting to go home, Loon Lake residents are being told they’re going to have to keep waiting.
The Elephant Hill wildfire (formerly the Ashcroft Reserve fire) is now pegged at 56,200 hectares and is considered 30 per cent contained, but on its north flank the fight is far from over.
“The north flank of the fire in the Loon Lake and Hihium Lake area was experiencing high-intensity fire behaviour and significant growth yesterday, so the crews and heavy equipment were working towards containment, but they aren’t there yet,” says fire information officer Max Birkner.
“Yesterday there was a lot of spotty precipitation through the area on that fire and today’s weather was expected to be a repeat with a bit less precipitation. The winds are expected to be southerly at 15 km/h with gusts up to 25 km/h.”
Birkner warns residents that it is still a volatile situation in the Loon Lake area and there is no current estimate on when crews can get a handle on that part of the blaze.
“If we got a massive rainstorm tomorrow maybe it would be quicker, but right now there is still significant fire behaviour in that area.”
Earlier this week the Thompson-Nicola Regional District announced a Rapid Damage Assessment Team had completed its damage assessment of properties at Loon Lake due to the Elephant Hill fire.
Related: Cache Creek residents return, crews battle Elephant Hill wildfire
Over the last few days the team has worked to inform residents on whether or not they have lost their homes.
On the Loon Lake Facebook group, residents have been sharing the news with each other and consoling one another over the loss of their homes, decades-old cabins and resorts.
Given the devastation in the region, the Loon Lake community is already vowing to work together and rebuild. A GoFundMe was created this week that has already raised more than $2,000.
Yesterday, Alan Lockmuller posted the video above. It was taken on July 14 as he evacuated the area.
“Sharie and I have been coming here for a dozen years for our vacation – even spent our honeymoon here, we were so impressed by Loon Lake and its people we bought a place last March,” wrote Lockmuller.
“We intend to retire here! We were at the lake when the evacuation order came through. Sorry for all that have lost and thankful for those that have not. Thank you to those on the ground fighting this fire…”
Evacuation orders were downgraded to an alert for the Clinton Corridor and partially for some areas of Cache Creek north, Hihium Lake, Loon Lake and the area east of Clinton.
The new alert includes all properties west of Highway 97 that were previously on an evacuation order and properties immediately bordering the east side of the highway that were previously on evacuation order.
Evac Order Rescind – Loon Lake Partial Order Rescind Jul 20-17 2100 Hrs by Carmen Weld on Scribd