High winds add to danger of BC state of emergency

Pauline Gross
July 17, 2017

Williams Lake Mayor Walt Cobb said he feels heartened after forecast stronger winds failed to materialize earlier this week, giving ground crews time to prepare for the worst.

As of Saturday afternoon, officials said 161 fires were burning, with 14 new fires that surfaced on Friday. However windy conditions Saturday fuelled the flames and led to the Evacuation Order.

Three new evacuation orders and three new evacuation alerts have been issued in the last 24 hours, including an order in Loon Lake and an alert for the Village of Clinton, due to to the Ashcroft Reserve fire moving north. The alert covers the entire District of Clearwater with the exception of the Canfor Vavenby mill site and the Yellowhead Mines property. "We thought we were never going to get out of there". "They should be thinking about their life and safety first".

The residents of 657 other properties are on evacuation alert and should be ready to evacuate on short notice.

A Delta staff member and a Delta firefighter have been deployed to Williams Lake where they are assisting the Caribou Regional District Emergency Operations Centre, while six Delta police officers have been deployed to various locations around Williams Lake and 100 Mile House.

Penticton Community Centre, recently opened to fire evacuees.

"We made the decision to get everybody while we could, because depending on how the fire went, we might have lost all our access out of town", he said.

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For the latest wildfire info, call the B.C. Wildfire Service at 1-888-336-7378.

British Columbia last declared a state of emergency because of wildfires in 2003, when more than 50,000 people were evacuated from Kelowna and the surrounding area.

But, Stone said, no evacuees will be turned away from Kamloops.

While the current number of evacuees has not exceeded that record, officials say this year's wildfires are far more spread out across the province.

Personnel and helicopters were dispatched to manage the fire and Parks Canada closed the Egypt Lake, Redearth Pass and Healy Pass areas as a precaution.

Earlier, many other Xatsull community members - including children and elders - were evacuated.

Evacuees should report to the emergency reception centre at the Sandman Centre in Kamloops.

Other reports by GizPress

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