The Gustafsen Fire

The Gustafsen Fire


“Our” fire began on July 6.  It spread rapidly on the west side of Highway 97, from just north of the town of 100 Mile House, burning homes and some businesses in the 105 Mile residential area, and threatening those in the 103 Mile subdivision.  Within four hours, the wind carried it fourteen kilometres (almost nine miles) north to the very edge of 108 Mile Ranch, the large subdivision of over 700 homes and a number of businesses.  All these areas were evacuated and the town of 100 Mile House was put on Evacuation Alert.  Two of our sons and their families live in 108, and my wife and I helped them pack up what valuables they could, bringing them to our home on the east side of the highway in the 105 Mile area.  Then we got the order to leave, and had 45 minutes to make our own decisions and drive away.  Since the fire had begun, about 6 or 7 hours had passed.  Few were prepared.

In 108, the fire took two homes.  The smoke and heat were intense, and the high winds bore the fire down onto the west flank of the subdivision.  The first responders – fire fighters and police – were radioed to pull back for their own protection.  The Royal Canadian Mounted Police (RCMP) officers who had just been relieved, gathered together at the detachment headquarters in 100 Mile.  There the Corporal told them he had just been advised that the situation at the subdivision (where many of their homes were) was no so dangerous that 108 could not be saved: it had to be abandoned to the fire.  One of the officers there was Reserve Constable Clint Lange - formerly a corporal – who had taken early retirement two years previously to answer God’s call upon his life: he is the pastor of 100 Mile’s Hillside Community Church (Pentecostal).  When the fire had broken out Clint, sensing that the detachment would need all the help they could get, had put on this “other” uniform and reported to their building.  None of them there had faced a crisis of this intensity and size in all their years of service.  When the Corporal informed them of the decision which had had to be made about 108 Mile Ranch,  Clint suggested that the one thing which could be done would be to pray, and asked if he might.  The Corporal, in turn, called all the officers together and said that Clint would lead them in prayer  They all gathered in a huddle, and Pastor Clint asked God for mercy, and that He would stop the fire which no one could stop.

They prayed – and that was the moment the wind abruptly ceased, then swung 180 degrees and started blowing from the opposite direction.  The flames blew back on the already burnt forest – and went out.  God alone saved 108 Mile Ranch. 

Pastor Clint
Submitted by Don Lipset

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