Alfred Higginbottom, of the Skuppah Indian Band, a Nlaka'pamux First Nations government, watches as a wildfire burns on the side of a mountain in Lytton, B.C., Thursday, July 1, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Darryl Dyck

Evacuee fled barefoot from wildfire that destroyed most homes in Lytton, B.C.

SQUAMISH, B.C. — A woman who escaped a ferocious wildfire that destroyed the most of the village of Lytton, B.C., and surrounding First Nation communities says she didn’t even have time to put shoes on before fleeing.

Noeleen McQuary-Budde says her husband, Lance Budde, returned moments after stepping outside their house, screaming that a fire was upon them and they had to leave.

She says black smoke was pouring down the village’s main street and fire seemed to be coming from all directions as they drove out of town.

The couple piled 11 other people in the back of their truck on the way to nearby Lillooet, where she says they slept in the field of a recreation centre with their 55-kilogram dog, Daisy, before continuing on to Squamish.

They are among an estimated 1,000 people who managed to flee to safety from the fire that swept through the community.

A search is underway for residents who remain unaccounted for, but Public Safety Minister Mike Farnworth hasn’t said how many people from the area are missing.

He says it’s hard to keep tabs on where everyone ended up, given the urgent nature of Wednesday’s evacuation.

McQuarry-Budde says they only stopped the truck when they believed they had reached a safe distance to look back and survey the damage.

“The whole village of Lytton went up in I would say 10 minutes,” she says.

“We were watching it burn and just thanking Creator that we got out.”