Trudeau to visit B.C. wild­fire zones

Penticton Herald - - FRONT PAGE -

REV­EL­STOKE, B.C. — Crews fight­ing wild­fires across Bri­tish Columbia are once again pre­par­ing for chal­lenges brought on by swel­ter­ing, windy weather as Prime Min­is­ter Justin Trudeau pre­pares to see fire dam­age for him­self.

Trudeau, Premier John Hor­gan and sev­eral fed­eral cab­i­net min­is­ters are set to visit Wil­liams Lake on Mon­day. About 10,000 peo­ple from the In­te­rior com­mu­nity were forced from their homes more than two weeks ago as flames threat­ened to cut ac­cess to high­ways.

The group is to meet with mil­i­tary and RCMP mem­bers from a com­mand cen­tre in Wil­liams Lake be­fore vis­it­ing the fire cen­tre and hav­ing a look at the fire zone from the air.

Res­i­dents of Wil­liams Lake have been re­turn­ing home for the past few days, but oth­ers in the re­gion are still un­der evac­u­a­tion or­ders.

Robert Turner with Emer­gency Man­age­ment BC said about 6,000 peo­ple re­mained dis­placed on Sun­day, in­clud­ing res­i­dents of the vil­lage of Clin­ton and sur­round­ing ar­eas, who were forced from their homes by rapidly mov­ing flames Satur­day night. Thou­sands of oth­ers across the prov­ince are un­der evac­u­a­tion alerts and have been told they may need to leave on a mo­ment’s no­tice.

About 150 fires were burn­ing across the prov­ince on Sun­day and fire of­fi­cials said more hot, windy weather could in­crease fire ac­tiv­ity in com­ing days.

En­vi­ron­ment Canada has fore­casted ris­ing tem­per­a­tures up to and above 30 de­grees Cel­sius for the south­ern In­te­rior in the com­ing week, and the BC Wild­fire Ser­vice has said the forests are much more dry than nor­mal.

“Ob­vi­ously, hot and dry con­di­tions are ideal for fires to start and fires to spread quite quickly, so that’s def­i­nitely a con­cern for us right now,” said Kevin Skrep­nek, chief fire in­for­ma­tion of­fi­cer with the BC Wild­fire Ser­vice.

Flames from more than 800 fires have charred about 4,260 square kilo­me­tres through­out B.C. this fire sea­son and the prov­ince has spent $172.5 mil­lion fight­ing the flames.

Skrep­nek said this year has al­ready be­come his­toric in terms of how much area has burned, be­com­ing the third­worst sea­son for land burned, be­hind 1961 when 4,830 square kilo­me­tres were charred and 1958, which saw 8,580 square kilo­me­tres scorched.

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