A Kimberley man says being separated from his family while evacuating the wildfire ravaged Williams Lake was the worst time of his life.
Kevin Honeyman grew up in Kimberley but moved his family to the Cariboo community two years ago for work.
He, his ex-wife and their three children are now back in the Bavarian City and comfortable after fires and highway closures forced them to drive all over the province to reunite with one another.
Earlier this month, Honeyman was on a sailboat off Vancouver Island when he learned a blaze sparked near his family’s home causing them to self-evacuate and head north to McLeese Lake.
Honeyman says they sailed overnight to get to Vancouver where had to rent a car because flights to the Cariboo region were cancelled.
Running on fumes, he had to pull off what he calls some “evasive maneuvering” to drive into Williams Lake.
Honeyman recalls pulling into town and seeing flames all around him.
After grabbing some supplies, he arrived in McLeese Lake to meet his family.
Honeyman says wildfire activity seemed to start to calm down in the following days and he returned to Williams Lake to help friends and neighbours put out smaller fires around their properties.
He said he’s never experienced a more awful feeling than knowing he was heading the opposite direction of his kids.
Honeyman said he was in full panic mode and admits he doesn’t know if he kept it together too well, as he could barely drive let a lone think.
He credits Natassja for being the real hero in the situation.
She had three dogs, three kids and all the supplies packed into a Ford escape.
Honeyman says she’s the one who kept it together and he’s really proud of her.
He suggests they drove “all over the province” trying to find routes to reconnect and his parents even jumped into a car to help coordinate the effort.
They all met up in McBride and then convoyed through Kootenay National Park and on to Kimberley.
Honeyman chuckles as he says he was supposed to be in Kimberley anyway as his band was scheduled to perform at the community’s JulyFest event this past weekend.
The 10,000 residents of the Williams Lake may be able to return home this week if weather conditions are favorable.
– Kevin Honeyman
(Photo courtesy of Facebook//Kevin Jock Honeyman)