'It'll be a total rebuild': Lytton, B.C., mayor describes work underway and next steps

There is a lot of work being done in the village of Lytton, B.C., as fire crews continue to battle the out of control fire that swept through town this week.

The village's mayor says the ambulance station, police detachment, homes and grocery store will all need to be rebuilt.

“From what I can see in town there’s only a few houses left so it’ll be a total rebuild,” Jan Polderman said.

“The vital infrastructure all needs to be rebuilt the power grid all the electrical lines are down … right now we’re in the process of shutting off the water to a bunch of the houses that have burnt down as a bunch of the water is coming out the pipes.”

He said a hazmat team is also working in the village due to some of the hazards that have been found.

According to the province, the fire is about 6,400 hectares in size and still burning out of control. One of the biggest challenges for crews now is figuring out where residents went after fleeing the village and how many are missing.

During the frantic evacuation, he explained, everyone went in different directions, some heading south, other north, to evacuation centres and friends or families homes.

“We’re asking the residents to go on the website ESS to register so that we can try and get a list together of who’s where and who’s out and who we need to look for,” he said.

There have also been a number of injuries the mayor explained.

“They were burned trying to leave or trying to put the fires out,” he said. “It was such a quick evacuation. They literally had 10 minutes to grab their coat, and pets and wallet and left.”

Polderman said he heard from Prime Minister Justin Trudeau this morning about next steps.

“The prime minister has said that the federal government will assist in rebuilding the town,” he explained. “And that he’s thinking of all the people in this province that are affected by all the wildfire situation.”

They also want to get some temporary housing set up for residents, so they can have a place to stay while the rebuild happens.

“I’d like to thank all the first responders and the people that are doing their best to help to put the fire out and to save people’s lives and save the city and homes and the surrounding forests,” said Polderman. “They were working under extremely difficult circumstances.”