It’s been a scary week for residents in the Similkameen area The Keremeos Creek wildfire is growing across the valley and closer to homes.
A family in the Cedar Creek area saw fire close to their home Wednesday night.
The property had been on evacuation alert since Sunday, two days after the wildfire started, and is located about five kilometers outside Olalla.
Two of the grandchildren, Taylor Thompson and Cedar Carter, told Castanet that even as the wildfire spread and they were put on evacuation orders, they all had to stay to tend the farm.
“We can’t leave our animals, we have cows right down there and our horses,” Thompson said.
“We’ve got 200 cattle somewhere on the range out there. So we’re just hoping they’re OK and they got out,” Carter added. “This is our everything.”
The family didn’t become concerned until Sunday, when they were traveling home from Merritt, when they saw where the fire had grown.
“We got the horses out and then Monday it was kind of in here and we were kind of worried, but we were still just waiting it out,” Carter said. “It’s been crazy. We’ve been everywhere…And last night was chaos.”
The Thompsons said they were having dinner when they suddenly went down to the bottom of the road and the fire started coming straight down towards their home.
“That’s all, shit hit the fan.”
The family then called friends and family and asked for help.
“We’re so grateful, so grateful for all of them. I think everyone we knew came out to help,” Carter said.
Both said they were also incredibly grateful for the firefighter’s efforts to help protect their home.
“Although it was so scary, it was great to see the community come together. It was freaking fantastic. Thanks to everyone who did,” Thompson added.
White Lake Road resident Larissa Henschell travels into Keremeos daily for work and has watched the fire grow over the past week.
She said she saw flare-ups last night around the same area while on her way home and was blown away by the scenes from the wildfire.
“All of a sudden we saw this big kind of cloud coming up from that way. It almost looked like an explosion, just big clouds of smoke that were really crazy,” Henschell said. “The smoke and the heat coming from that fire, it’s just unreal. “
“Even though it was kind of scary at the same time, you’re just fascinated by the flames, like the way they light up the trees and how bright it is.”
One consolation for Henschell was seeing how much the firefighters did.
“There’s this one ranch right on Cedar Creek and it was really close to it. We could see how the firefighters were getting ready to protect the building there,” she added.
“They do so much work and they are amazing. They made us feel safe even though it was right there.”
The morning after their near disaster, the ranch family is tired, exhausted, and a little relieved that their heroic efforts against the wildfire succeeded in saving their property.
“We’re just thankful we have enough food to feed an army and the community is still bringing in truckloads of food,” Carter said with a laugh.
The Keremeos Creek wildfire is still very active, classified as out of control and growing. Several properties were put on evacuation orders Thursday afternoon.
The wildfire broke out on Friday, July 29 and has so far resulted in the loss of one home.
Photo: Larissa Henschell
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