WATCH ABOVE: A wildfire is burning near Rock Creek, B.C. — a popular recreation area about 500 kilometers east of Vancouver. Flames have already consumed 2,500 hectares. The fire is moving quickly, meaning when conditions change, anyone in its path has only seconds to act. Reid Fiest reports.
One of the many campers forced to flee from the rapidly moving Rock Creek fire happens to be a Global Calgary meteorologist who was on vacation.
Jordan Witzel was at the Kettle Valley Campground when the fire started and he had to grab whatever he could and leave the area immediately due to the fast-moving blaze.
He is now at the Midway evacuation centre where he and his family are seeking refuge.
He said the general feeling at the centre this morning is one of hope. “We just heard from an RCMP member here of the Kootenay District that spoke about being in the campsite where most of us were and saying he drove through there this morning and in fact, most of the vehicles are intact and just fine.”
“It was a huge relief for all of us to hear that,” said Witzel.
He said some campers’ vehicles were burned as they were closer to Highway 33 at the exit of the campsite.
Witzel said on Wednesday, at about 1 p.m., he and his family were on the river and smelled smoke. “It took about 45 minutes before everything was fully engulfed in the campsite and west of the campsite. Flames were jumping ahead of us to the other side of the river and obviously at that point we were making our escape down the river, south towards Rock Creek, which is where we were rescued by some forest firefighters on an old forest trunk road.”
WATCH: Global Calgary’s Jordan Witzel talks to Global News BC1’s Sonia Sunger.
“Run away from the fire, flames overhead, smoke choking you out,” he said.
Witzel said he grabbed a big water container from someone’s camp to try and keep the group he was with hydrated. There were about 70 people in total.
“It was scary. It was a little heartbreaking to see my kids so worked up, to see my wife and my sister-in-law in tears at times. A part of you, at that moment, just kicks in with the adrenaline and you just take care of what you have to.”
For the most part, Witzel said the adults were calm and once people realized they couldn’t drive out of the campsite, they just prepared to walk down the trail to leave.
At the Midway evacuation centre, Witzel said many have been staying with residents in Midway and Grand Forks who have opened their homes to the evacuees.
“The folks in Midway are absolutely amazing,” he said. “The shirt on my back was donated yesterday to the drop-in centre here,” he said.