‘Everyone was calm’: B.C. wildfire evacuees recall trip out of Williams Lake

An RCMP officer drives north on Highway 97S near Alexandria, B.C., while a large plume of smoke from the forest fires burning around Williams Lake can be seen on the horizon, July, 16, 2017. RICHARD LAM / PNG

The threat of an encroaching wildfire weighed on Britanni Erlandson’s mind for days, yet when the evacuation order came, she wasn’t ready to leave her home in Williams Lake.

“You think you’re all ready until it comes down to it. You feel panic, you don’t know what to do,” she said, adding her husband and their seven-year-old daughter joined a caravan of vehicles Saturday after a wind-fuelled flare-up of a fire near their town.

“It was very busy. A two-hour trip took eight hours, just bumper to bumper. Everyone was calm,” she said Monday at a reception centre for evacuees set up in Surrey, one of about a dozen in B.C.

At least 40,000 people have been forced from their homes by nearly 160 wildfires in central and southern British Columbia. Another 17,000 have been told they need to prepare to leave with little notice.

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Updated: 18/07/2017 — 05:09

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