Kamloops ‘stretched’ by too many evacuees
Some British Columbians chased from homes by wildfires being diverted elsewhere
As more British Columbians are chased from their homes by wind-fanned wildfires, officials say they are concerned that their place of refuge in Kamloops may be stretched too thin.
Seven evacuation orders were issued Saturday afternoon and evening, including for thousands in the City of Williams Lake and the surrounding area.
Cariboo Regional District Chairman Al Richmond says that while the flames haven’t reached Williams Lake, he and the mayor decided to issue the evacuation order because the fire threatened to cut exit routes.
Initially, they had planned that Williams Lake residents would go north to Prince George, but Richmond says flames crossed that highway, and the majority of evacuees were diverted south towards Kamloops.
But he says Kamloops is “stretched,’’ and because evacuees are also coming from Loon Lake, it will only get worse.
He says they’re concerned about overloading the centre and he’s urging all evacuees to call the Red Cross, which is helping co-ordinate the efforts.
Officials in Lake Country said residents hoping to get back to their homes are being turned away. Evacuees were forced to flee quickly on Saturday when a fire spread in the forest and brush above Okanagan Lake north of Kelowna.
Lake Country fire chief Steve Windsor said people are now trying to figure out whether their homes have been destroyed — and several have.
“We’re not releasing the numbers yet,’’ he said. “But at this point we’re saying ‘numerous,’ and it is quite numerous.’’
In an earlier news release, Central Okanagan Emergency Operations said ``as many as 10’’ structures had been reported damaged.
Windsor said no one has been seriously hurt by the fire, but some firefighters have been treated for minor injuries.
The fire has largely been contained, he said, but the situation has not yet been stabilized.
Winds threaten to blow the flames past retardant lines that were set up overnight, and the fire is behaving “aggressively.’’
Wildfire evacuees McLean Rislund, 80, and June Rislund, 81, from Forest Grove near 100 Mile House, walk to an evacuation registration centre in Kamloops, B.C., on Monday. As more British Columbians are chased from their homes by wind-fanned wildfires, officials say they are concerned that their place of refuge in Kamloops may be stretched too thin.