By Angela Hill, Red Cross communications aid worker
 
It was an emotional afternoon in 100 Mile House as community members, who were evacuated by wildfire, were able to start to return home.

“I’ve never been through anything like this,” said Diane Wilson as she described first the fear of the approaching fire, then the evacuation and finally being allowed back to her community.

She had tears in her eye as she talked about the support she, and other evacuees, received.

“I’m so grateful.”

Diane said her home in 108 Mile House survived the fire.

“It’s going to be a big freaking mess, but it’s still standing,” she said, before adding that she knows she is one of the lucky ones.

Shawn Taylor and daughter Crystalynn from 103 Mile House stopped by the re-entry centre set up at the South Cariboo Recreation Centre in 100 Mile House. They left with Red Cross equipment to clean all traces of the fire from home.

“[I’m] ecstatic, we’re finally going back home,” Shawn said.

When the evacuation order came more than two weeks ago, he said his family was already packed and ready to leave.

“[I was] not actually surprised based on what I saw in the backyard prior to the evacuation.”
Shawn described thick black smoke rolling towards his home, and the telltale glow of orange as the fire raced closer.

Norma Jones had a similar view, as she was leaving her house under the evacuation alert, smoke was billowing into her yard.

“I didn’t come back because it was too scary.”

When it was safe to return, Norma alongside many others were very happy to be home. On Saturday evening, fire fighters, volunteers and municipal politicians were out with big signs, waving and cheering to welcome residents back.

“We’re very happy and very excited to welcome our residents back and glad that they are safe,” said Roger Hollander, chief of the 100 Mile House Fire Department.


It was the simple pleasures that people seems to look forward to the most. Alessandro and Teresa Garbin stopped at the re-entry centre on route back to 108 Mile House after 16 days away.

“You know what I have at home?” asked Alessandro, with a massive smile and a twinkle in his eye, “My bed.”

This short video shows the emotional welcome residents received.