‘Cana­di­ans have ral­lied to­gether here’

B.C. of­fi­cials tally losses, dam­age fol­low­ing wild­fire flare-ups

The Guardian (Charlottetown) - - CANADA -

Of­fi­cials in Bri­tish Columbia say they are be­gin­ning the dif­fi­cult process of no­ti­fy­ing those who have lost homes in the outof-con­trol wild­fires that have prompted a pro­vin­cial state of emer­gency.

Cari­boo Re­gional District chair­man Al Rich­mond said Mon­day that teams have gained ac­cess to ar­eas where houses and other build­ings have been de­stroyed north­west of 100 Mile House.

“We can start to phone the res­i­dents who have had losses,” he said.

Crews are also work­ing to re­store elec­tric­ity, tele­phone ser­vice and other in­fra­struc­ture in re­gions evac­u­ated af­ter the fires broke out July 6.

“Our staff is ac­tively en­gag­ing in the south Cari­boo to look at re-en­try plans for our res­i­dents, should they be able to re­turn home,” Rich­mond said, although he cau­tioned re­turn could be “a ways off.”

At least 40,000 peo­ple have been forced from their homes by more than 160 wild­fires in cen­tral and south­ern B.C., while 17,000 oth­ers are on evac­u­a­tion alert.

A wind-fu­elled flare-up of a fire near Wil­liams Lake Satur­day forced the evac­u­a­tion of that city, but Rich­mond said crews had man­aged to keep the flames in check about five kilo­me­tres north­west of the com­mu­nity.

He said a sawmill is in the path of the 80-square kilo­me­tre blaze should it ad­vance, as is the Wil­liams Lake emer­gency oper­a­tion cen­tre, but there had been no calls for fur­ther evac­u­a­tions.

Wind on Fri­day also caused a flare-up of a huge fire that started near the Ashcroft In­dian Band re­serve. That fire has charred more than 400-square kilo­me­tres west of Kamloops and de­stroyed nearly three dozen homes in Bos­ton Flats near Ashcroft.

Near Kelowna, res­i­dents on all but 69 prop­er­ties have been al­lowed to re­turn to Lake Coun­try af­ter a hu­man-caused fire was sparked Fri­day, de­stroy­ing eight homes.

Lake Coun­try Fire Chief Steve Wind­sor said the 55 hectare blaze started along the side of a road and was 75 per cent con­tained by Mon­day. The cause of the fire is still un­der in­ves­ti­ga­tion.

Gusty winds Sun­day night caused a flare-up that kept crews busy and Wind­sor said the re­main­ing evac­u­a­tion or­ders likely won’t be lifted un­til Tues­day at the ear­li­est.

Canada’s public safety min­is­ter said the fed­eral gov­ern­ment is help­ing in the fire­fight­ing ef­fort in ev­ery way pos­si­ble.

Speak­ing in Pi­lot Butte, Sask., on Mon­day, Ralph Goodale said 500 ad­di­tional RCMP of­fi­cers have been sent in to as­sist with evac­u­a­tion and po­lice com­mu­ni­ties when they have been cleared out.

He said fire crews have been sent in from nu­mer­ous prov­inces.

“So Saskatchewan is con­tribut­ing to the ef­fort as well as Al­berta, and vir­tu­ally ev­ery other prov­ince right across the coun­try to the Mar­itimes. So Cana­di­ans have ral­lied to­gether here.”

CP PHOTO

A wild­fire burns on a moun­tain in the dis­tance be­hind a house that re­mains stand­ing on the Ashcroft First Na­tion, near Ashcroft, B.C., late Sun­day.

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