This is a look at the Hanceville wildfire in the Chilcotin west of Williams Lake Sunday afternoon. (Photo submitted)

‘We have to try and save our homes’: Tl’etinqox First Nation

The members are gathering at the Anaham Band office to serve food and water as they wait it out

Members of the Tl’etinqox First Nation community of Anaham Reserve are defying an evacuation order to leave the Chilcotin in order to try and save their homes.

“We sent out the elders today but anyone who is young enough and fit enough is staying behind to fight the fire,” said Cecil Grinder.

“We have to try and save our homes.”

An estimated 200 to 300 members are staying behind – a decision Chief Joe Alphonse announced Sunday morning.

Grinder said officials wanted them out but they refused.

Forests Minister John Rustad called the news troubling.

“I understand why he wants to do it but this is a serious risk given the challenge of what could happen with rapid moving fires, he said in a statement. “We’ve connected him with satellite communications in case we lose all ground lines and will be in frequent communications with him.”

He and several other community members were in Williams Lake gathering food and emergency supplies such as propane to take back to their community, which has been cut off from power since Saturday.

They said they would be travelling back tonight on the closed Highway 20 no matter what.

Travellers returning from the area, located about an hour’s drive west of Williams Lake described seeing a “moonscape” beginning at historic Lees’s Corner, which was lost to fire Friday night.

RELATED: Lee’s Corner destroyed in wildfire

The members are gathering at the Anaham Band office to serve food and water as they wait it out, Grinder said, and will retreat to a safe location if they need to.

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Anaham residents Cecil Grinder and Clayton Stump load up their vehicle with food and emergency supplies in Williams Lake Sunday evening with plans to take it back to community members in the evacuation zone in the Chilcotin.

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