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'Starting from scratch': Longtime Lytton rafting business levelled by wildfire looks to rebuild

Hyak River Rafting lost everything, including its accommodations and equipment, in the June 30 blaze.

A Lytton river rafting business owner is looking to rebuild after a wildfire tore through his property and levelled all of his equipment. 

Logie McLagan has spent more than a decade guiding people through the mighty Thompson River near Lytton.

"Hyak [River Rafting] has been a special part of my life for a number of years. I’ve worked for it for 12 years before I bought it,” he says.

“There’s some beautiful scenery up there and there is great river rafting up there that we have enjoyed over the years and a great community.”

All of the infrastructure owned by Hyak River Rafting was torched and destroyed in the late June fire that wiped out most of Lytton. The popular tourist attraction is located just off the Trans-Canada Highway, less than two kilometres from the village.

“We are starting from scratch so we will have to wait to see what help there is for us and what we can salvage and what we can’t,” McLagan tells Glacier Media.

On that frightful day in June, staff members had to run from the flames to safety, he adds.

“The fire was literally six feet from [one of our] trailers and they had to evacuate,” says Erin Conroy, administrative manager at Hyak River Rafting, which also has a base in Chilliwack.

None of the Hyak staff were injured but their rafting equipment, kitchen and housing were lost in the blaze. Multiple trailers and structures also burned down.

“Losing all the equipment and gear isn’t as big an issue for me. I am just glad there wasn’t greater loss of life and everyone made it out alright. [We're] looking to support those people who have become our friends and family over the years,” says McLagan. 

Conroy says about 20 Lytton staff members had to find somewhere else to live; in response, McLagan raised more than $13,000 through a GoFundMe campaign

“We started a GoFundMe page to make sure everybody had what they needed to live,” she says. “It’s a family, a huge family. It was amazing to see everyone come together, offer their support, their help and just chip in and do everything. It was just wonderful.”

She notes her team is very appreciative of "everybody's concern and help and wanting us to survive and go on."

Hyak has been operating since 1980, according to the company's website. Some 250,000 rafters from around the world have enjoyed a trip down one of the rivers.

“It is amazing how much support and how many people are coming forward offering whatever they can,” says Conroy.

As McLagan waits for answers on how the fire started, he's also waiting for answers on what financial support they'll be given, insurance included. 

"There's a lot of hurry up and wait and we are just looking for information both from the town of Lytton and the provincial government to see where we go from here,” says McLagan, adding he's optimistic they'll be able to rebuild by next year.