Sparks Lake wildfire on July 12, 2021. (BC Wildfire Service)

Sparks Lake wildfire the largest blaze in B.C.

The wildfire grew to 89,627 hectares in size

The Sparks Lake wildfire started just two days before the entire town of Lytton was destroyed by flames on June 30.

Just 15 km north of Kamloops Lake this blaze would become the largest in the province for the summer of 2021, for a total of 89,627 hectares burned.

BC Wildfire Service responded to the Sparks Lake area for a blaze estimated to be 180 hectares in size on June 28 and by the next day, it would be classified as out of control at 750 hectares.

As B.C. became trapped under a heat dome during the last days of June and temperatures peaked between 46 and 47 C, Sparks Lake exploded and a wildfire near Lytton would destroy everything in its path.

At first evacuation alerts were put in place for just nine properties in the Electoral Area “J” and by July 1 a total of 163 homes north of Kamloops were ordered evacuated due to the Sparks Lake wildfire, and another 298 on evacuation alert. With the fire growing in several directions, evacuation orders and alerts would be issued from Darfield to McLure, to the District of Barriere.

The Thompson Nicola region’s Deadman Valley, the location of a magnificent canyon with a waterfall, would be blackened debris after the raging Sparks Lake wildfire moved through the area.

On July 20, chiefs of 16 communities of the Secwépemc Nation signed on to declare a state of emergency due to wildfires in the area.

There were already evacuation orders and alerts in place on reserve land due to the Sparks Lake wildfire since the beginning of July and Skeetchestn crews were on hand battling the blaze since it started.

By mid-August, more than 100 structural protection personnel would be working within the Sparks Lake Complex, after Sparks Lake and Young Lake wildfires merged.

BC Hydro crews worked around the clock to restore infrastructure in burnt areas.

The Sparks Lake wildfire would destroy 55 properties and also cause injuries to those fighting the flames.

A firefighter based out of Merritt suffered burns to his chest, neck, arm and face while battling the massive Sparks Lake wildfire. Dylan Bullock had been fighting fires for the last 10 years and was injured near Red Lake during a controlled burn, according to WorkSafeBC.

As of Aug. 26, the BC Wildfire Service changed the status of the Sparks Lake wildfire from out of control to being held and no longer would update the blaze as a wildfire of note. By this time a number of evacuation alerts and orders were downgraded or rescinded.

The Sparks Lake wildfire is suspected to be human caused.

~With files from Kamloops This Week

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Deadman Falls after Sparks Lake wildffre on July 9, 2021. (Skeetchestn Natural Resources)