Harrowing video captures terrifying drive from B.C. wildfires
KAMLOOPS, B.C. — At first, the drive didn’t seem too bad.
Sally Aitken and her husband decided to leave their cabin in British Columbia’s West Chilcotin region due to wildfires on Sunday. They were not ordered to evacuate, but had been without power for days and the only highway out had recently reopened.
As they drove along Highway 20, they saw nothing overly dramatic: light smoke, burned trees. Then they suddenly they found themselves in the middle of an intense blaze, with flames leaping on either side of the road and smoke so dark they could barely see.
“Your choice is, when it gets bad, do you turn around ... and then you have to go through what you’ve already been through, or do you just keep going? We just kept going,” recalled Aitken in an interview.
“It was alarming but you can’t panic because you’ve got to get out of the situation and you’ve got to think clearly.”
Aitken, a professor in forest and conservation sciences at the University of British Columbia, shot a video of the harrowing experience and posted it on social media. She hopes the video will be instructive to people who are fleeing the hundreds of blazes across B.C.
“People really need to follow the advice of the professionals who are telling them when to evacuate,” she said. “But we also need to keep in mind that fire behaviour is very unpredictable. As quickly as the
weather shifts, the fire shifts.”
Provincial officials said Tuesday that 219 fires were burning and over 14,000 people had been forced from their homes. Thousands more are under evacuation alerts, meaning they must be prepared to leave at a moment’s notice.