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Work to rebuild homes in wildfire-ravaged Lytton to begin

More than seven months after a wildfire ravaged the village of Lytton, work is set to begin to rebuild some of the homes.

The fire destroyed much of the Fraser Canyon community last June, including all of its major services such as water and sewer, and reduced the majority of homes to ash.

The province says plans are in place to remove the debris next month and rebuilding homes could start this fall.

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Lytton resident Denise O’Connor, whose home was incinerated in the fire, says there is lingering frustration and anxiety over what many consider the province’s slow response to rebuilding the community.

“It was such a wasted four or five months,” he said. “Like, why weren’t things on the move, why wasn’t the recovery team put in place you know a month after the fire? I’m not saying a day after because you need time, but four or five months later? Doesn’t make sense.”

Team Rubicon Canada volunteers sift through rubble and ash to search for people's valuables in Lytton.

Team Rubicon Canada volunteers sift through rubble and ash to search for people’s valuables in Lytton. Aug. 27, 2021. (Photo submitted by Team Rubicon Canada)

Mike Farnworth says he understands the frustrations of residents who have been displaced for months, but argues there are many services which have been restored in recent months.

“There’s commitments from the RCMP to rebuild a station there, medical service has been reestablished through the facilities on the First Nation’s land, Canada Post is putting back in the post office, so there’s a lot of things that have been done. I totally understand it’s frustrating for people who want to rebuild, and we them to be able to rebuild as well,” Farnworth said.

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In addition to rebuilding, the village will also have to rewrite its bylaws after the records and backup servers were lost in the fire.

Two weeks ago, the government announced $8.3 million would go to support the recovery efforts and introduced legislation to allow Lytton to recreate its bylaws to support governance and administration.

Highway 1

Highway 1 near the Tank Hill underpass east of Lytton, B.C. (Image Credit: B.C. Ministry of Transportation)

In addition to the wildfire cleanup, B.C. has also faced significant infrastructure challenges which came with the November floods, leading to lengthy closures of the highways which connect Lytton to the rest of the province.

With files from The Canadian Press

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