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Lytton residents left homeless after fatal wildfire get 1st look at devastation

‘Tour’ through village comes as the Transporation Safety Board announces it will be investigating the fire

Residents of Lytton had a first look at what remains of the village they call home after a wildfire tore through the area last week.

The tour through the village comes as the Transportation Safety Board announced it will be investigating the fire, believed to have involved a freight train, which sparked on June 30.

Federal Transport Minister Omar Alghabra has ordered all train traffic through Lytton to halt for 48 hours effective immediately, while residents are on escorted tours through the village.

The Thompson-Nicola Regional District organized bus tours for displaced residents Friday, saying that while unescorted entry isn’t safe, work had been done to clear a way to permit taking residents through the area by bus.

Debbie Sell, in charge of the TNRD’s Emergency Operations Centre, said that before the resident tour took place, there were many emotional meetings between residents who have been spread far and wide following the fire. The tour was the first opportunity many of them had had to see friends and neighbours since June 30, and that opportunity to reconnect was a valuable one.

Shortly after those impacted toured the village, reporters were provided access. Because of toxic fumes in the area, no one was allowed to disembark, but there was an opportunity to see the devastation wrought by the fire.

Among the rubble and ashes were some buildings that had, miraculously, survived. The post office seemed intact, while at the north end of town the Chief Cexpe’nthlEm Memorial Precinct was apparently untouched: the memorial and the nearby Anglican church of St. Barnabas, the parish hall, and the community hall are all still standing and seem to be undamaged.

Most other buildings were not so fortunate. The RCMP detachment, St. Bartholomew’s Health Centre, and the former Lytton Elementary School were all destroyed, as were the two museums. Homes were reduced to rubble, with only the chimneys standing. From the north, Lytton Super Foods appeared more or less intact, but the frontage revealed the charred remains of the interior.

To the north of town, on Highway 1, Jade Springs was gone, with the flames scorching part of the property at Kumsheen Rafting and reaching as far as Skihist Provincial Park.

More to come.


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