Survivor of Lytton, B.C., fire shares story of his narrow escape with dog

Lytton, B.C., resident Daniel Calderoni Acosta is still in shock, days after he and his dog narrowly escaped the fire that destroyed his community. 

“He feels numb, like he doesn’t think it’s real," said his niece, Valeria Calderoni Acosta.

Daniel is a ranch caretaker originally from Mexico. Through the translating of his niece, the Spanish-speaker was able to share the details of what he endured on Wednesday night when fast-moving flames overtook the village of about 250 people.

Daniel said he returned home from work around 6 p.m. and noticed a very strong wind and sparks flying through the air.

“He was watching through the window, and he could see the furniture fly away, and he could see branches fly away,” Valeria said.

Quickly, the fire was closing in.

“He started seeing the wind pulling the fire towards him and then all the grasses around catching fire.”

In a panic, Daniel then tried to make an escape.

“He took a jacket, put it on and left the house and tried to start a quad, but when he tried to start the quad a flame came and lit him on fire," Valeria said.

Daniel was able to shed the burning jacket, but not the fire.

“At this point there was fire 360 degrees around him.”

The ranch caretaker was able to locate his dog Jack. The two would spend the next eight hours wandering around, looking for safety, as the town around them burnt to the ground.

“He couldn’t move anymore, so he found a really old house that had a deck and wasn’t on fire, and fell asleep," Valeria said.

Then in the middle of the night, help finally arrived.

“The dog started to bark and there three people that had light who were rescue people.”

Daniel and Jack would spend the next two days in Lillooet, before being brought to the Canine Valley rescue centre that Valeria runs in Squamish.

He suffered second-degree burns on his face, ears and hands, and his home, and everything he owns, is gone.

“He’s grateful to be alive, but he doesn’t know what he’s going to do, he doesn’t know what’s happening," Valeria said.

A GoFundMe has been set up to help Daniel and Jack get back on their feet.