It was a smoky morning Sunday, July 4 as Amy Stromsten worked to complete some chores at her home at Kleena Kleene.
The day before, Stromsten and her partner Dustin Trainer could see smoke billowing from the nearby Big Stick area fire as the Cariboo Regional District (CRD) issued an evacuation alert Saturday, July 3 for the area, including the couple’s home, approximately 270 kilometers west of Williams Lake.
Heavy equipment and personnel worked throughout the night Saturday, noted the Cariboo Fire Centre (CFC), to establish a fire guard on the fire that is now listed as a wildfire of note—meaning it is highly visible or poses a potential threat to public safety.
“We’ll leave if we have to,” Stormsten said, noting she and her partner are prepared to fight to save their property located on the backside of Clearwater Lake and purchased by Trainer’s mother, Cindy Nadeau, almost 40 years ago.
The fire is currently about five kilometres away “as the crow flies” from the couple’s home. Saturday night they watched as a helicopter pilot bucketed water to fight the blaze.
In 2017 many had stayed behind in the Chilcotin to battle wildfires and save properties from destruction, including Trainer.
A fireguard from four years ago still surrounds their uninsured homestead.
Stromsten admitted it would be silly to say she is not nervous this year. Her heart goes out to Lytton, where a wildfire swept through, destroying the village in the Fraser Canyon last week.
According to CRD manager of communications Chris Keam, the evacuation alert for the Big Stick area covers 328.7 hectares in the sparsely populated area that Stromsten said is dotted with homesteads, cabins and several private resorts.
“Everyone checks on everyone,” she said.
The CFC said 80 per cent of a fuel-free guard was built Saturday along the east and north flank of the fire located north of Big Stick Lake.
“The Big Stick Lake and Clearwater Lake recreation sites are closed to ensure firefighters are able to conduct fire operations safely,” said CFC fire information officer Jessica Mack.
Fire activity and suppression efforts continue to ramp up in B.C., as do drying conditions.
In the Kamloops area, Stromsten’s daughter is also on evacuation alert.
“I’m sure we’ll be OK.”