OHS Canada Magazine

‘It’s a nightmare’: 300 wildfires blaze, another evacuation order issued in B.C.


MERRITT, BRITISH COLUMBIA — A regional politician in British Columbia’s Interior is calling for more support amid a “dire” wildfire situation that he says has filled every available hotel with fleeing evacuees and stretched local security resources beyond their capacity.

Ken Gillis, who chairs the Thompson-Nicola Regional District, says the district has put in a request with Emergency Management B.C. for an additional 100 to 150 personnel.

Gillis signed three additional evacuation orders over the weekend and had to direct the final batch of evacuees to find their way to Kelowna, more than 100 kilometres away because of the lack of accommodations in closer communities like Kamloops.

Roughly 300 wildfires are burning across British Columbia and new evacuation orders were issued for properties in several regions.

The BC Wildfire Service currently lists the wildfire danger as high to extreme across most of the southern half of B.C., while cool, damp weather has significantly dropped the danger rating in the northern half.

Advertisement

Thirty-seven blazes, 12 per cent of all B.C. fires, are rated as highly visible or a threat to life or property.

“It’s a nightmare,” Gillis. “We have absolutely nothing left (for accommodations) in Kamloops, we have nothing left in Merritt, we have nothing left in Salmon Arm. They’re absolutely full.”

Gillis said he considered directing evacuees to Cache Creek, but decided against it because that community is under an evacuation alert. When there is an alert, residents are asked to prepare to leave at a moment’s notice.

“Some of the places are just places we can’t send people to because two hours from then we might need to uproot them and send them somewhere else.”