124 Replies to “Newsletter #144, 2017 Evacuation Special – Part I”

  1. Arlene Halstrom says: Reply

    Chris, what a powerful and sad exhibition of a summer none of us will forget. It is not over yet and we can only hope for rain,no wind and no lightening strikes.
    It was indeed an emotional time for you.
    Arlene Halstrom.
    Eagle Lake, in the Chilcotin and
    Lions Bay, B.C.

    1. Thank you Arlene. You are right, it is not over yet. More fires broke out today, but as of this moment we are safe and hoping for the best. Thanks again.

  2. Doris Jones says: Reply

    We are thankful that your house is still standing! Truly when you think about what you build over the years with a family and it has the potential to be wiped out in an instant that is very emotional. You are most fortunate. Thank you for sharing that intense story you lived through. I can’t imagine that. Similar situation happened to a family we know from the Fort Mac fire. A miracle that his house was still standing. Always a cameraman! I can’t believe you managed to take so many during such a scary event. Glad that you are all safe!

    1. Actually, making photographs was the easy part, almost and escape from reality! Thank you for your thoughts Doris.

  3. Lisa anderson says: Reply

    Must have been very tough! Glad your home made it through!!

    1. Thank you Lisa. We are indeed happy to be home in our cozy straw bale house.

  4. So glad you, Rita, Duggan & Aspen House made it through all this, Chris. Thanks for the powerful imagery, as always.

    1. Thanks Bill. We feel grateful to be together.

  5. Chris, an incredible account and photographs of what could still be a life altering event. Life has a way of dashing all our dreams, and hard work in a brief moment of time. After the smoke in this case clears, life will go on even though it may be very different. Anyone that has experienced or had a close life changing encounter is given a second chance to decide what is important, and make the necessary changes going forward.
    Wishing you and Rita the very best outcome, and look forward to you continuing to enrich peoples lives with your writing and Photographs.
    Robert Nowland KPAC Kamloops.

    1. For some reason I seem to have had several of these life-changing experiences and I am still around to talk about them, or to share them through photography. I am indeed grateful. We are all safe for the moment. Thank you for commenting. Appreciated.

  6. I am speechless about what you are going through – unfathomable! What a life-shattering experience.
    Wishing you, your family and all people of the affected area strength and fortitude.
    May grace not only protect your home, but the others in danger as well.
    Blessings to you all in this region!
    My warmest thoughts are with you

    1. Thank you so much Satya. I think the images help people to understand what we and especially the firefighters were facing. Just imagine evacuating an entire hospital. More fires started today but right now we are safe and grateful to be so.
      Take care Satya.

  7. Einar Hansen and Linda Riddell says: Reply

    We passed you by on July 8th, Hell-broke-loose day, on our way to the Dorsey’s; normally we stop in at the Gallery for a road break.
    But not this time; the Highway 97 was deserted, fire was everywhere roadside, and we kept moving. The only image we made was at Lee’s Corner, sadly, burnt out.

    1. Wow…you just made it through. Did you actually get to go into the Rainbows and have a full trip while all this was going on? I hope so. Losing Lee’s Corner is sad news indeed. Such an historical place. I’ve had many a piece of pie there.
      All the best…see you next time you pass by!!

  8. Glenda graham says: Reply

    What a wonderful collection of photos. Very powerful.

    1. Thank you Glenda….worth a thousand words!

  9. Your photos brings all of us to reality, giving us a more realistic look at what smoke filled cities actually were, not like the news.
    Glad all is good for you.

    1. Reality it sure was! I’m glad I have those pictures just to remember the feelings and realize how lucky we were.

  10. Jeff McClellan says: Reply

    Wow!! Glad to hear that you, Rita and Duggan are safe and that all is somewhat better. Hopefully it stays that way and all returns some normalcy.

    1. More fires started today just south of us. It’s not over yet but we are safe for now…and grateful to be so!
      Thanks Jeff

  11. Norman Shacat says: Reply

    Chilling. Everyone’s worst nightmare. I’m so glad your home was spared.

    1. Many thanks Norman.

  12. Brilliant documentation Chris…thanks for sharing

    1. Thanks Sage. Great to hear from you…as always!

  13. We could only sense the tension of those difficult days in the several messages that we exchanged. These images graphically tell the story how catastrophic things could have been had Mother Nature not shown her kinder self. Huge relief that things ended well. No repeats please for the rest of this and future summers ! Enough. Jai

    1. It was so difficult to explain in words. Thank God for visual words. For me, it’s my language of choice! Thanks Jai.

  14. wow glad you Rita and Duggan are ok but what a surreal event to live through

    1. Thanks Valerie. Rita, Duggan and I are appreciating life to the fullest!

  15. Frances Cowen says: Reply

    Bless your heart for the photos and the emotions. I am sure the world was watching and it might sound trite but suffering along with you. Your images are very powerful. And your snap of the water wagon is priceless. So happy your home was spared

    1. I think I have to make a print of that water wagon. It’s a very special image for me. Thanks Frances.

  16. chris czajkowski says: Reply

    Still crazy here in the West Chilcotin, too. It is the third time I have been evacuated for fires. Not knowing if you will ever see your home again is a powerful feeling. Precipice under major threat still. See my blog for the Kleena Kleene fire. wildernessdweller.ca

    1. Thanks Chris. I’m hoping to get out there when the roads open so I can continue photographing. Good luck with everything.

  17. John Lawrence says: Reply

    Our prayers to you and everyone affected by the BC wildfires.

    1. Much appreciated John.

  18. Chris Cheadle says: Reply

    Wow. I was sure thinking of you during news of all the fires. Profoundly challenging. I’m sure glad your place stands. God luck with the rest of this summer.


    1. Hi Chris,
      Thanks so much for getting in touch. I am still around and hope to get some images to you one of these days!!

  19. Chris.thankyou (as always) for the story and the incredible pictures. Our hearts are with y’all as this tense and unforgettable summer moves on. Great stories of heroism amongst the anguish and loss. Thanks for bringing the reality into our lives. So glad to hear your home, and you guys made it.

    1. Thank you for your continued concern and support Buzz. Everything is ok at the moment although heat, high winds and lightning are in the weekend forecast…yikes!

  20. Hi Chris, Very powerful story and images. I am glad you and Rita’s home and gallery made it through., and I’m glad you guy’s made it through.

    1. Hi Douglas and Charlene. Great to hear from you. Thank you for your thoughts, but most importantly, thank YOU for all the fire fighting you are doing to protect what is so dear to so many. You guys are heroes. Thanks Doug.

  21. Debbie Lynn says: Reply

    Powerful, emotional, sad but incredibly humbling. Thank you for this Chris…………FABULOUS

    1. Nature is all of those things: emotional, powerful, and incredibly humbling. Thank you Debbie

  22. Terry Perron says: Reply

    Amazing photos, and great story. Will there be a book with all the photos of the wildfire?

    1. I’m not sure about a book, but I sure get asked a lot!! Time will tell!

  23. Bill De Meester says: Reply

    Hi Chris,
    Wow, what an episode , I sure hope your property is still standing.
    We went through an evacuation in Kelowna, so I know what you are going through, but your images show much worse..
    Your roads are few and selective compared to Ontario and can enhance the emotions of entrapment.
    Are thoughts are with you guys and keep well.

    Bill and Joyce

    1. Thank you Bill and Joyce. All is well that ends well, and so far it’s ending well.

  24. ORrin and Wendy Webber says: Reply

    Dear Chris,
    Of course you were the first person we thought of, and feared for when the news of the fire at 100+ Mile house was reported. You, and yours have been in our prayers daily since the fires began, so many days ago. It was such a relief to receive your letter, although it was not until just now that I was able to open it. You wrote it, so you were safe somewhere, but what had you lived through?
    Well, this morning I finally had the gumption to open your letter….and there, in true Chis Harris style, was your heart rending account. I am sure even your pictures and words can’t describe all that you experienced in this nightmare, dear Chris. Thank you so much for sharing it with us. You have touched our lives over and over in so many wonderful ways, dear friend. We are very thankful that you and yours are safe. Even if the worst had happened, I want you to know that our life experiences with you on our various trips into the wild will always be with us, and leave us with meaningful smiles of Joy.
    Please let us know if we can do anything to help you as you recover.
    Bless you, Orrin and Wendy.

    1. Hello Orin and Wendy. Thank you so much for reconnecting after so many years. I so remember all our wonderful trips and experiences; those memories provide us with richness. I have had the good fortune of continuing to adventure and photograph all these many years. If I had lost everything, Rita and I would have just started over again…camera in hand. There is always beauty and a great story around every corner.
      I hope this finds you both well. If you are ever up this way, do drop in to visit. You are always welcome.
      God bless. Cheers, Chris

  25. Karen Watson says: Reply

    Beautiful photographs in a heart wrenching way. I moved from that area to Ontario over 5 years ago so can only feel the pain long distance. Your art has brought the fire to life.

    1. Thank you Karen for connecting with your thoughts and feelings.

  26. Laverne mclean says: Reply

    Thank you for the documentary about your experience during the wild fire, your photos are wonderful. It has been a very scary time,glad you didn’t loss your home.

    1. Thank you Laverne for your thoughts and concerns. Appreciated.

  27. Lana Kirtley says: Reply

    I’ve wondered and worried about you all many times over the last 3 weeks. I’ve wondered about the beloved Chilcotin country and how all are fairing. Your images … thousands of words and emotions held within. Thank You for sharing.

    1. Thank you Lana for your thoughts and concern during this difficult time. We know so many people throughout the region who have been effected….and it’s not over yet. Thanks again for connecting.

  28. beautiful and heartbreaking…thank you

    1. Thank you…

  29. Denise Tupman says: Reply

    Thanks for sharing your images, Chris. Having spent a great deal of time in and around the area that you pictured, I was very moved when seeing them. I can only imagine how you must have felt having to pack up and leave not knowing whether you would have a home standing when you eventually returned. My parents were also forced to evacuate from their home in 100 Mile and I felt helpless to support them in any real way – except with conversations over the phone.

    1. Hi Denise, I hope your parents did well during the evacuation. It was a powerful experience for everyone concerned. I’m privileged to be able to share a part of the greater story through the few images that I made. Take care. Thanks for connecting.

  30. Mufty and Bill Mathewson says: Reply

    Chris, this is such dramatic coverage and so personal. You have allowed us to share some of the terror and sadness, hope and relief. Thank you Mufty Mathewson

    1. Thank you Mufty. It was a powerful experience.

  31. Wonderful accounting of a most emotionally trying time … ours was the following weekend. I thought I was prepared … next time god forbid !!

    1. I’m not sure if we are ever prepared! Thanks.

  32. Karen Sarver says: Reply

    Hi Chris,

    I too was an evacuee from the 108. We own and operate Sarvair Helicopters. The first helicopter that you photographed is our one of our ASTARs. My husband Klint was piloting that day. I was wondering if I could purchase a copy of this photograph from you. Love you story and your pictures. Thanks for sharing.

    1. Thanks Karen. I always look at the helicopters to see if I can identify Sarvair but in the distance and in the smoke it’s always difficult. Please get in touch when things quiet down. I’m not sure which image you mean but getting a print is definitely possible. It’s what I do! Is there any possibility of flying and photographing with Klint? If so, please let me know. Thanks.

      1. Karen Sarver says: Reply

        Unfortunately all of our helicopters are tied up with forestry during the fire season, so no aerial shots sorry. I will come by the studio when things slow down for sure.

  33. Susan Douglas says: Reply

    Wow. Awesome photos of such a devastating event. Although I live in Mexico now a part of my heart will always belong to 100 Mile House.

    1. Thanking you all the way to Mexico!

  34. Thank you, Chris, for caring and sharing through all this. Very special. And powerful. One thing that must come out in the end… a person or a group to take the lead on the 2017 Cariboo Chilcotin Wildfire Book. A compilation of imagery, experiences and memories by those affected.

    1. Good to hear from you Ron. I trust all is well with you near Quesnel fires.

  35. How very interesting – your photos and story bring home the terror and destruction forest fires cause. I, living in Kingston, Ontario, have little concept of the fear and anguish caused by having to leave your home. So happy that you are safe and your home is there to return to. Good luck, Audrey

    1. Thank you for your thoughts, feelings and concerns.

  36. Joan Loeken says: Reply

    Chris: I think I have been insulated from news other than what our president is doing to destroy the country, so I had no awareness of the fires or what you have been through. Your images bring the power and destructiveness of fire right into my very being. I also know that fires are regenerative and I thank them for not destroying the beauty of your home, so that it can continue to be a representation of life well lived. Joan

    1. I totally understand how you must feel regarding your president. We don’t need to look too far across the planet to see that climate change is real. It’s a worldwide issue. Mother nature and the efforts of so many fire fighting personnel have so far spared us. But we have friends who were not so lucky. Thanks Joan…thinking of you.

  37. both you and Rita were on my mind when all these fires were breaking out and your beautiful space that you so generously share via your photography gallery. I know it isn’t really “over” but I hope for you and for all those living with this incredible force of nature that life will return to a somewhat “normal” state.To all those fighting these fires and protecting homes like yours and your neighbors we owe so very much.We all know it can be anyone of us on the run from this. we here in PG have welcomed nearly 10,000 people in and are happy to do so. I will be stopping by when it is safe to do so . Thank You for documenting this is and how you managed to do so when it is YOUR HOME that you may never see again is beyond words/but not pictures!

    1. Thank you Philomena. Rita was stuck in PG for several days and she often speaks of the amazing hospitality she received there. Look forward to seeing you….sometime!

  38. Thanks for bearing witness so wonderfully.

    1. Many thanks Jane.

  39. John Wilson says: Reply

    Have wondered many times how you and Rita were doing. Glad to hear you Rita and the Harris world HQ made it OK.

    John W

    1. Thank you John. Yes, we are all here but it is not over yet. Thick smoke today…hard to breath. I hope to drive west soon to check things out…with camera in hand!

  40. R David Williams says: Reply

    Dear Chris and Rita,
    You have both been in my prayers since I first heard about “The Fire” west of 100 Mile. My immediate thought was of “105 Mile”, you and Rita and your straw bail-walled gallery. As I read your posting and looked at your images my chest tightened, feeling I was there … How would I feel if I was about to loose everything I had worked so hard for? What would I grab? … my computer? My external hard drives? And it occurs to me that what I really value the most is being alive, so that I, as you, can continue to share our passions. And of course, what allows us to do this fully is the nurturing relationships we have with our respective partners and our valued friends. Thank you for sharing … my mind is at ease.
    Much love to you both.
    Kind regards, David

    1. Hi David. Wonderful to hear from you and thank you for your thoughts and prayers. We have been very fortunate so far. Our straw bale buildings still stand! Remember, straw bale buildings are 21 times safer from fire than regular ‘stick’ construction according to CHMC. Pretty cool eh!!
      It’s time to go and photograph the aftermath now. I want to turn it into art! Thanks to you both from Rita and I .

  41. Rosalie and Tom Starkey says: Reply

    Hi Chris
    So glad to know that you, Rita and Duggan are safe. The news that finally reaches us in Toronto is mostly general and not specific.
    We have had you in our thoughts A Lot.
    Tom and Rosalie

    1. Great to hear from you Tom and Rosalie. It’s hard to get reliable news…even here! Hopefully the Newsletters gave you a better idea of the ‘real’ story! Take care both of you…have a great summer.

  42. Chris … I feel your plight … we were evacuated less than 2 years after moving to BC due to a wildfire … I have never had such a feeling of complete hopelessness and despair … we came out OK, and I learned that as long as you and your loved ones are safe, then the most important parts of our lives are taken care of – the rest is just “stuff”. All the best!!!

    1. Thanks for sharing Marty. Yes, it sure separates what is valuable with ‘stuff’!

  43. wendy reynolds says: Reply

    Chris, thank you for your story and fabulous pictures to go with it. I love that kind of photography, the ones that tell the story. I left kamloops for Quesnel that Friday. right when it all began. I stopped and took pictures along the way, but had no idea how bad it was and kept stopping to take pictures. I thought that I was going through a bad movie, and it didn’t stop. As I went through 108 they were beginning to be evacuated, I went through Williams Lake and they closed the road. I got just before Kersley and saw the fire start by the road and the police were just going door to door there, Got to Quesnel and the Kersley road was closed. I kept taking the pictures so I could send the pictures home, so that people could see what was happening. Without pictures it’s hard to imagine how bad it really was. So thank you I loved your pictures. it is reality.. Thank you. Looking forward to the second part. Mine was that I had to go the long way home and it was smokey.

    1. Thanks Wendy for your story. It was a day we will never forget. Glad you made it through safely.

  44. Chris, my husband and I have many friends and business ties in the 100 mile area. we raised our girls in Williams lake. I was in Williams lake the day the fire in 100 mile started and can’t begin to imagine how it must have been for all of you. My friends in Europe have been asking how things are, and I can’t begin to describe to them what you all are going through. With your permission, i would like to share your post with some of them there. Please let me know

    1. Of course. Please share the post or the link to the Newsletter itself. Hundreds of people have shared it to date. So far it has reached some 60,000 people. Many thanks and all the best.

  45. Rosemary Neads says: Reply

    So relieved that you guys made it through okay and are home…and we really appreciate your pictures and commentary. Dave and I are constantly in touch with the Precipice, where the threat is still all too real. We may have left, but a huge chunk of our hearts are there! So stay safe, wrap your home in a protective bubble of golden energy, and pray that the fires there can continue to be controlled.

    Hugs and positive thoughts from Dave & Rosemary.

    1. Thank you both. Thinking of the Precipice too. Have been meaning to call but haven’t got to it as yet!!

  46. We were evacuated Thurs night around 9 when the ridge burst into flames. 3 houses were lost on Abel Lake Road.

    1. I’m going to drive by there today. What I saw last night was emotional enough. I hope you are doing ok.

  47. Nancy Mackenzie says: Reply

    Just home from Sarnia where we laid David to rest and saw your recent email on the firs. I do hope your place was saved – unbelieveable photos Chris – you certainly bring the disaster to our eyes who are far away from it all. We have a family here who were evacuated and they are hoping to go back shortly but again it all depends on winds, etc. Do keep us up to date and hope you and Rita and dog are okay.

    1. Thanks for staying in touch Nancy and bringing me up to date with David. I think of him often. He was a true friend.

  48. Roslyn heavens says: Reply

    This is so well done! I was crying the whole time..looking forward to Part 2

    1. Thank you so much for connecting. Less tears in Part II I think!!

  49. Nadine Feather says: Reply

    Chris and Family, I am glad your home was waiting for you all to return. I can only imagine the emotions, almost like your life flashes in front of you, and trying to pack up as many memories as possible to take. My family hunts every year around Timothy Mountain (I hunt with my camera) :). It will be very eye opening this fall for the annual trip.

    Look forward to your next newsletter.

    1. Thank you Nadine. Drop by the Gallery anytime!!

  50. Chris, Rita and Teresa ….. Lars, I and many here, have held you in our thoughts/hearts throughout this very intense experience. Thank you for sharing your story in such an amazing way and it’s good to hear your strong network of support.

    1. Thank you Adelin. All is well…so far!

  51. Thank you for sharing. One can never put into words the emotions that are felt when something this terrible happens to you or someone you know.

    1. Thank you PJ.

  52. Michael & Joanne O'Dwyer says: Reply

    Chris – We are all very happy back here in Ireland to hear that you are back in your home after awful fires. Jane was keeping me updated on a daily basis. Ye have all been through a lot of stress and worry. The photos you captured really bring home the enormity of the fires. Thank God you, Rita, Duggan and all the people in the area of 100 mile house are all safe again. Regards and Best Wishes – Michael, Joanne, Sean, Lorraine, Celine & Simon.

    1. Wonderful to hear from the whole O’Dwyer family in Ireland!! We are all doing well, but another large fire is just south of us and many are being evacuated. I think we are going to need winter snow to put out all these fires. Hoping all is well with you all. Thanks for your prayers and concern!

  53. So glad that you all are safe.

    1. Thank you Gregg!

  54. charlotte bachmann says: Reply

    danke für die tollen bilder ,viele werden nur noch Erinnerung bleiben, unendlich tut das mir leid das so viele menschen alles verlieren müssen ,denke auch an die tiere,Jahre wird es dauern die ihr bestimmt nicht mehr erlebt bis der wald sich erholt hat,ich wünsche es wirt bald ende nehmen mit dem feuer ,viel glück euch allen, tut mir so leid

    1. Danke schoen! All the best to you too!

  55. Kelly McArthur says: Reply

    Hi Chris… I am so glad that you shared these photos.. also very happy for my family whose homes were also spared.. John and Evva, and my brother and nephew with homes on the 108.
    Hoping for my sister’s place at 70 Mile now!
    Thanks… 💕

    1. You have a lot of family to think about! So far, so good. I hope all works out for everyone.

  56. Nicole Kipfer says: Reply

    Chris. Your picture are very powerful but scary at the same time. Glad to be in 🇨🇭 Take care 😘

    1. Thanks Nicole. Hope you are enjoying Switzerland!! All is well here!

  57. To find your Newsletter at this particular point in time and in our day is truly an amazing gift. My husband, Bill, and I are almost in Golden, BC, travelling to family in Alberta. Two nights ago our July 15th Evacuation Alert changed to an Order and we along with so many others evacuated our beautiful S Green Lk. Thk u for amazing pics & encouraging story!

    1. Thank you and we wish the very best at Green Lake.

  58. Rachelle Delorey says: Reply

    Thank you for sharing Chris… I cannot imagine all the people that got evacuated, the feelings and emotions that went through them. i appreciate the time you took to write this story and share it with us, including the pictures.

    1. Thank you Rachelle. Just enjoying the journey of life!

  59. Debra Jane Petersen says: Reply

    What an amazing catalogue of pictures and commentary. This brings tears to my eyes, and I pray that all will be safe, and that most people don’t lose their homes. Such a tragedy. I live in Victoria, on the Island, and only yesterday did we start getting the smoke from these fires. That, in itself is eerie, but what you are all going thru is so much. Take good care, and Blessings to you all.

    1. Thank you Debra. Happy to hear you enjoy the pictures, and the story.
      Victoria is a lovely place…enjoy!

  60. Thomas Schoen says: Reply

    Chris, reading your newsletter brought tears to my eyes. You expressed how I felt when trying to leave the house that I’ve built with my own hands 20 years ago. Similar to your situation, I was on my own, with Beth being away on a vacation in Ireland. I attempted to leave three times in one day, only to turn around at the end of my driveway. When I finally made it to McLeese Lake and Highway 97, images of the past 20+ years went through my mind as I talked to our dog Baby Mook about what is happening. It is not the potential loss of property and material things that is hard to swallow, it is more the fear of loosing ones history and connectivity to the place we call home. The countless hours of building and improving. Yes we all have skills and means to re-build, but we can’t duplicate the wear and tear, the weathered wood, the fading paint, the small imperfections that make our place our own.

    1. Hi Thomas. Thank you ever so much for sharing your thoughts and feelings. You are so right on; it’s not the loss of material possessions, but the history and the sense of place we have developed over time. As you say, even the weathered wood becomes all important. Thanks again Thomas…and be sure to drop in next time you drive by the 105!

  61. Hey Chris, our home is right on the hill where the fire went thru and I was wondering if you would be doing any prints of that?

    1. Hi Sheila. Absolutely, we have made some prints for exhibition in the Gallery and we will make prints of any other photograph you are interested in. Please drop by or give us a call. There are several options for you to consider. Thank you for your interest and we look forward to hearing from you.
      Cheers, Chris

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