Gold Bridge fire grows to 850 hectares, sending smoke as far south as Squamish 

Some residents already evacuated with others on alert


Every time the phone rings Casie Menhinick is prepared to hear the worst - her home and family business for the last three decades has burnt to the ground.

Her property, Spruce Lake Wilderness Adventures, is near a raging 600-hectare fire at Tyaughton Lake, 65 kilometres west of Lillooet.

"The fire came right onto our ranch," said Menhinick, who was ordered along with her five children aged 5 to 14, to evacuate from her home Sunday.

Her husband Warren, who grew up in the area, refused to leave the ranch and remains behind hosing down the property to try and keep it safe. Menhinick only hears from him sporadically by satellite phone as the heat of the fire has melted all the power and communication lines to the area.

"He won't leave our ranch," she said.

"He is hosing down buildings and trying to keep all of our barns from being burnt down with a whole lifetime worth of assets.

"...Everybody is doing what they have to do to protect their belongings. There are homes on the road that don't even have house insurance on them so they are just trying to keep the fire away.

"It is very nerve wracking.

"Everybody has high adrenaline and we are looking for more help and more response form the forest service."

Currently 100 fire fighters are on scene with 40 joining the battle on Wednesday. Nine water-bucket carrying helicopters and eight air tanker are helping their efforts. The smoke is hampering efforts, as at times it is so thick it is dangerous to fly.

The fire comes at a terrible time, as the ranch is getting ready to gear up for summer business. While there are already confirmed bookings Menhinick believes this will affect short-term bookings and even people who just want to come out and trail ride.

"For us as business owners this is when we make our income and the area has just been ravaged by fire," she said.

"So far we have been able to protect our business, but we are on pins and needles. I am in Lillooet and every phone call I get, the first question I get is, 'has it burnt down?'

"So it is a little bit scary."

A reception centre for those evacuated from Gun Creek Road was set up in Lillooet. If more evacuations are needed it is likely a reception center will be set up in Pemberton.

To date evacuations are in effect for properties west of Pearson Pond along Gun Creek Road, from the intersection of Tyaughton Lake Road and Gun Lake Road to Lick Creek, and for the surrounding areas of Gold Bridge, Tyaughton Lake, Pearson Pond and Gun Lake.

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