It is not the first time the Slack family has had to evacuate due to a wildfire – they were evacuees in the 2016 Fort McMurray wildfire, which caused more than $9 billion in damages.
Jennifer Slack said she was at school Thursday with her three-year-old son when she decided to prepare for the possible evacuation of Tumbler Ridge.
She said she knew wind conditions were forecast to change, so she went home and started to pack up. Only a couple of hours later, the evacuation order came down.
“We were able to leave right as the ash was beginning to fall,” Jennifer Slack said.
“We went to go to Dawson Creek and the highway had just closed … We ended up going through Chetwynd and I was hearing the hotels were filled up, so we decided to go to Dawson but they were filled too. So we continued to Grand Prairie and we are now at a motel.”
The evacuation order was issued for the northeastern B.C. community of Tumbler Ridge Thursday evening.
Slack said the family’s first experience with the Fort McMurray blaze, including the support they received, helped to prepare them for this time around.
“The first (evacuation) was worse. The worst part is waiting and not knowing what is going to happen,” Slack said.
“But going through it a second time, you can’t control the situation so you have to sit back and wait. If we have to rebuild, we have to rebuild. If we don’t, we don’t. There is nothing we can do about it.
“I am just thankful our friends, family and pets are safe.”
Tumbler Ridge has roughly 2,400 community members who have been evacuated due to the out-of-control fire at West Kiskatinaw River.
As of Friday morning, the fire is an estimated 9,600 hectares and is suspected to be lightning-caused.
The BC Wildfire Service said the wildfire is expected to reach Tumbler Ridge on Friday.
“Things are not looking good for Tumbler Ridge,” Matthew MacDonald said, a BC Wildfire Service forecaster.
“(Thursday) we saw consistent winds from the east. The winds are pushing the fire towards the town of Tumbler Ridge.
“We are expecting the easterly winds to continue to push that fire into Tumbler Ridge. There is a pretty good chance the fire reaches the community (Friday).”
The fire has been rapidly growing due to aggressive weather conditions and dry fuels, according to the BC Wildfire Service. The fire is expected to grow with southeasterly winds, along with sustained high temperatures and low humidity on Friday.
Structure protection is underway in Tumbler Ridge.
The BC Wildfire Service is directing everyone to the Emergency Information BC website for the latest alerts and info.