Damage estimate for fire razed town of Lytton, B.C., reaches $78 million

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VANCOUVER — The Insurance Bureau of Canada estimates the damage caused by the wildfire that wiped out most of village of Lytton, B.C., is $78 million.

The bureau says in a statement there has been about 300 claims so far, most of which are related to residential properties.

Aaron Sutherland, vice-president western and Pacific at the bureau, says Canada's insurers are committed to help rebuild from the loss and to help the residents of Lytton recover.

Fire raced through the community on June 30, killing two people and leaving other residents minutes to get out.

The cause of the fire is still being investigated by RCMP, the BC Wildfire Service and the Transportation Safety Board after some indication that a train may have been a factor in the fire.

The bureau's statement says the Lytton wildfire is a tragic reminder of the increasing risk facing communities in B.C. and Canada from a changing climate.

"This wildfire has devastated the community," Sutherland says in the statement.

Governments at all levels must prioritize investments that build resilience and better protect families and communities, the statement says.

"We all must do better to prepare for wildfires, floods, heat, hail and windstorms. These perils are having an outsized impact on those most vulnerable and, as a result, we must greatly enhance our efforts to mitigate future change and adapt to the new weather reality we face," Sutherland says.

The news comes as heat and dry conditions move in after a damp long weekend in B.C., increasing the wildfire risk.

The BC Wildfire Service says about two dozen new fires have been sparked over the last 48 hours and almost 270 fires are considered active, the highest number in about 10 days.

Crews are keeping a close eye on the Boundary region of the province after Environment Canada maps show a fierce lightning storm near Grand Forks, east of the area where the 160-square kilometre Nk-Mip Creek wildfire threatens properties from Oliver and Osoyoos east to the Baldy Mountain ski resort.

The Thompson-Nicola Regional District Emergency Operations Centre issued an evacuation order late Wednesday for 271 properties because of a wildfire in the Westwold/Monte Lake area.

Statistics from Emergency Management BC show 64 evacuation orders across the province, affecting nearly 4,300 properties, while residents of roughly 21,000 other properties have been warned to be ready to leave on short notice.

The B.C. government has extended its wildfire state of emergency until Aug. 18, saying the order allows it to manage potential mass evacuations more quickly and give better support to residents affected by evacuation orders.

This report by The Canadian Press was first published Aug. 4, 2021.

The Canadian Press

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