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Sleepless night for B.C. woman as wildfire evacuation order separates her from husband with dementia

Click to play video: 'Keremeos Creek wildfire latest' Keremeos Creek wildfire latest
Shifting wind patterns are keeping communities on edge in B.C.'s South Okanagan, where an out-of-control wildfire has forced numerous evacuation orders and alerts. Kamil Karamali has the latest.

A B.C. woman had an emotional night, crying, after spending it away from her husband who has dementia.

Sandra Diaz lives in the Southern Interior, in Olalla, where there’s an evacuation order because of the nearby Keremeos Creek wildfire.

When the evacuation order was issued, Diaz chose not to leave her home.

However, she delivers food to migrant workers on a weekly basis. On Friday, Diaz says she asked officials if she could quickly exit the zone to deliver food, then return.

Read more: ‘Decent fire activity’ in Saturday forecast for Keremeos Creek blaze

“I deliver food to migrants every Friday. That’s what I do,” Diaz told Global News. “Yesterday, I came to the (evacuation order) blockade and asked if I could quickly deliver and then come back home. A gentleman and a lady said it wouldn’t be any problem and they allowed me to do that.”

When she returned to the blockade, a shift change had occurred.

“The policeman who was there would no longer allow me to go home,” said Diaz, adding “He was very rude and … it was just not the way I had dealt with policemen before.”

Diaz says she understands police have a job to do, but said, “He could have escorted me home. I explained the situation with my husband. He has dementia, he’s all alone, he’s very confused.”

Click to play video: 'Thousands under evacuation order or alert due to Keremeos Creek wildfire' Thousands under evacuation order or alert due to Keremeos Creek wildfire
Thousands under evacuation order or alert due to Keremeos Creek wildfire – Aug 5, 2022

Diaz said she spent the night crying in her vehicle, “not for myself, but for my husband because I worry.”

To cross the blockade, Diaz was told she needs a permit from the regional district, which she was told might be processed today or tomorrow.

“Three days ago, the fire was a lot closer to my house. Why didn’t they evacuate us then?” said Diaz.

Asked how she feels that her husband is at home, alone, she replied, “I cried all night. The impotence … the lack of compassion from people anymore is … I don’t understand.”

Click to play video: 'B.C. wildfires: Evacuation orders and alerts expanded' B.C. wildfires: Evacuation orders and alerts expanded
B.C. wildfires: Evacuation orders and alerts expanded – Aug 4, 2022

She added, “nobody is going out of their way to make a little bit of a step towards the right direction. I am very sad and very disappointed and very disillusioned because I think we are losing our humanity.”

However, shortly after her interview, fire officials contacted Diaz and said she’d be allowed back in the zone. There was a caveat, though. If she ever exited again under the evacuation order, she wouldn’t be allowed back in.

“Thank you very much, and god bless you,” Diaz told fire officials.

Click to play video: 'Olalla residents forced to flee home due to wildfire' Olalla residents forced to flee home due to wildfire
Olalla residents forced to flee home due to wildfire – Aug 4, 2022

Meanwhile, for another area resident, being evacuated was a first.

“We’ve been watching it since the fire started, and we saw the plumes of smoke and developments,” Glen O’Neil told Global News. “We knew there had been an alert to Olalla, which is about a kilometre north of where we live.”

On Thursday afternoon, O’Neil said, they received an evacuation order

“We didn’t even get an (evacuation) alert. We went right to the order,” said O’Neil, adding they were ready for it because they “anticipated we might have to go. So we basically got everything ready as we possibly could.”

He added they recently moved to the area from Alberta at the end of April, “and this is our first experience with anything like this.”

Click to play video: 'BC Wildfire Service provides 2022 seasonal outlook' BC Wildfire Service provides 2022 seasonal outlook
BC Wildfire Service provides 2022 seasonal outlook – Aug 4, 2022

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