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Feeding hungry fire crews

Richard Brown sits in the Jade Springs Restaurant, just north of Lytton, Wednesday night, waiting for his order of 55 meals from the Chinese food restaurant. 

It's the only restaurant in town that's open at 10 p.m. anywhere near Lytton – and Brown has a lot of hungry mouths to feed. 

Brown is the warden for the Lytton Forest Service and has been tasked with delivering items to and from the front line, where crews battle a 300-hectare – and growing – wildfire that has been threatening homes throughout  the day. 

Just hours before, the BC Forestry Service had estimated the fire was 160 hectares, but the estimate was nearly doubled to 300 hectares by 7 p.m. Heavy winds had been blowing all day, whipping the fire northward. 

As night fell, the wind continued, and the flames could be seen clearly on the mountains across the Fraser River from Lytton, engulfing trees in seconds.

While Brown spent the day delivering hoses, pumps and other firefighting necessities, he was now in charge of getting food to the crew that had just come off the line after fighting the fire since morning. 

Brown says he's sure they'll be happy to see him after putting in 12-hour shifts. 

"They're a little tired, but they're patient people, they're hard workers," he said. 

While winds were expected to persist northward, Brown said you never know how fires will act. 

"You can't really predict it, (the wind) shifts around in this valley, so the fire's going to move around."

Despite the river standing between Lytton and the fire, residents were busy watering down their houses and decks Wednesday afternoon. They may be used to the drill by now. 

Near the end of June, a seven-hectare wildfire burned four kilometres south of town, just two kilometres south of where Wednesday's fire started. 

"Just farther down the road," Brown said. "They're mostly railroad fires."

Elaborating, Brown says sparks from train wheels are often to blame for fires in the area. 

Regardless of the cause, it needs to be stopped – and there's 55 people down the road who need to be rested and fed by morning. 

He loads the 55 meals into his truck and heads off. 

The kitchen can be heard celebrating the end to their busy night on what should have been a quiet Wednesday.

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