Newspaper article The Canadian Press

Cache Creek, B.C., Residents Return Home after Being Forced out by Fires

Newspaper article The Canadian Press

Cache Creek, B.C., Residents Return Home after Being Forced out by Fires

Article excerpt

Cache Creek, B.C., residents return home


CACHE CREEK, B.C. - Residents of a village in British Columbia's Interior are thrilled to be heading home after being rushed out by a fast-moving wildfire, but they fear an uphill battle in repairing the community's tourism economy.

Lisa Balouch, manager of the Sunset Motel in Cache Creek, says the loss of 11 days of visitors is significant, not only to hotels, but to restaurants, gas stations and other businesses.

"We had people coming from Britain, Switzerland, Austria, Germany, all across Canada, the U.S.," she said in an interview from Venables Valley, a short drive from Cache Creek.

"So many people depended on those tourists coming through for money. Not only did they lose that money, but now they have to spend money doing cleanup."

More than 45,000 people remained out of their homes Tuesday as 155 wildfires burned in the province. Cache Creek, with a population of about 1,000, was the first major community to be evacuated on July 7.

Officials said the 520-square-kilometre that started near the Ashcroft Indian Band reserve, continued to burn out of control, but the imminent threat to Cache Creek had diminished. Residents were allowed to return at 3 p.m. Tuesday, but the village remained on evacuation alert.

As cars slowly drove into the community on Tuesday afternoon, firefighters gathered in front of the fire hall to welcome them, waving and smiling, video posted by a CFJC reporter shows.

Mayor John Ranta said the fire destroyed two airport hangars, one house and a few other buildings. Most of the Boston Flats trailer park south of the village was destroyed, he said.

Cache Creek businesses depend on summer tourism to generate enough revenue to stay open the rest of the year, he said.

"It is a huge impact on local area businesses when there's an evacuation," he said. "We're hopeful that we can invite the rest of British Columbia and beyond back into the community in very short order."

It had been a difficult year for Cache Creek before the fire. The village was hit with flooding in May and the fire chief, 59-year-old Clayton Cassidy, was swept away. …

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