“It’s just crazy.”
A former Smithers resident living near Cache Creek recalls the day wildfire surrounded her home.
Sherrie Fraser, who lived in Smithers for over 40 years, can see her home from the motor home, her temporary place.
“I’m actually looking at the trailer park right now — I can see my trailer, but I can’t get at it,” she said last week.
Calling from near the park, Fraser talked about photos that she took of fire surrounding her place, consuming the other trailers but not her trailer, and how when she showed reporters those photos, their jaws dropped.
“They’re like, ‘how is that possible?’ Because the fire is all around it, the trailers around it are gone and my flowers are still blooming in my yard,” she explained. “The only visible damage to my mobile home is the skirting melted on the backside end and a little bit on the other side at the back.”
Fraser recalls the day the wildfire hit Boston Flats.
“I was at work at the north end of Cache Creek about six kilometres from the park and somebody said, ‘oh look, there’s a fire at Ashcroft Reserve.’ And I went, oh yeah I could see the smoke. I wasn’t worried about it because it’s a few kilometres from my place.
“Next thing I know, around one o’clock my boss said to me you better go home, they’ve evacuated Boston Flats and my dog was in there so I had to leave work and get my dog.
I went through two road blocks to be allowed into my trailer to get my dog. That’s what I got, my dog — it was pretty horrible,” she said.
“I went back in to Cache Creek to where I was working and then within about [an] hour-and-a-half the fire had spread across the highway — you could literally see it [the fire] jumping. That’s how fast it moved. It was crazy how fast it moved. That’s a good stretch, it’s probably almost 10 kilometres and it just went from smoke in the distance to fireballs going across the highway.”
Fraser described the wildfire as going in one direction, leaving a trail of destruction in its path:
“It was like a funnel went through; it was like somebody put up walls on either side and the fire went down that area. It’s like a big hallway and I was in the middle of the hallway.”
Seeing all of her neighbours’ homes gone, Fraser said it felt horrible.
“That’s a 50-plus trailer park and almost 100 per cent of these people are retired so they live on a pension, period,” she said.
Of those 50-plus trailers, only four remain standing.
Despite Fraser’s mobile home being one of the four places still standing, there’s a new threat that could leave her home uninhabitable.
“Until hazmat goes in there because a lot of the trailers that were in there were really old and mine’s pretty old, too. Now there’s the issue with asbestos — if there is asbestos then that could condemn the whole entire park,” Fraser exclaimed.
While there’s so much uncertainty surrounding the future of her home, there’s at least a sliver of relief. The park is being guarded to prevent looting.
“Right now they have 24-hour security so that nobody can go down there. Even if everything inside my trailer is not affected, somebody could easily go in there and take whatever they want — the presence here has been amazing,” said Fraser.
For Fraser, she said the emotional part is the hardest since being evacuated several weeks ago.
“That’s the tough part, right. I’m sitting here looking down there going I just want to go back to my home. I just want to go home. Everything in the world that I own is in that trailer,” she said.
While there’s been so much destruction from the wildfires, Fraser noted not one person was killed and that’s the incredible part.
“In all of this tragedy, there’s been not one person perished.”