Help pours in for B.C. wild­fire evac­uees

The Hamilton Spectator - - CANADA & WORLD - THE CANA­DIAN PRESS KAM­LOOPS, B.C. —

Help from other prov­inces and the fed­eral gov­ern­ment has be­gun to pour in for fire­fight­ers and thou­sands of evac­uees grap­pling with more than 230 in­tense wild­fires rag­ing across Bri­tish Columbia.

About 300 fire­fight­ers and sup­port staff from Al­berta, Saskatchewan, On­tario and New Brunswick were ex­pected to start ar­riv­ing Mon­day to help re­lieve the pres­sure on roughly 1,000 B.C. fire­fight­ers bat­tling the blazes.

Prime Min­is­ter Justin Trudeau said he spoke with Premier Christy Clark as well as premier-des­ig­nate John Hor­gan on Sun­day night and the Cana­dian Armed Forces have sent air­craft and per­son­nel to sup­port the emer­gency re­sponse to the fires.

Res­i­dents of Fort McMur­ray, Alta., who had to flee a mas­sive wild­fire last year, have also sprung into ac­tion by col­lect­ing do­na­tions of sup­plies, driv­ing them to B.C. and of­fer­ing sup­port and ad­vice on so­cial me­dia.

Christo­pher Seguin, vice-pres­i­dent of ad­vance­ment at Thomp­son Rivers Uni­ver­sity, said ter­ri­fied evac­uees ar­rived at a Kam­loops re­cep­tion cen­tre with noth­ing, hav­ing “lost ev­ery­thing and hav­ing lost it quickly.”

He said four tonnes of sup­plies ar­rived from Fort McMur­ray in­clud­ing wrapped and sealed wa­ter, Ga­torade and baby sup­plies, and vol­un­teers were mak­ing sure the Kam­loops food bank re­ceives and dis­trib­utes them.

Seguin ex­pressed his grat­i­tude to the res­i­dents of Fort McMur­ray.

“Thank you. Thank you for giv­ing back and thank you for go­ing to an ex­tra­or­di­nary ef­fort to mak­ing sure we get ex­actly what we need at ex­actly the right time,” he said.

Public Safety Min­is­ter Ralph Goodale said Mon­day more than 230 fires were burn­ing, with 98 con­sid­ered new within the “last day or so.” At least 10 were in “close prox­im­ity” to com­mu­ni­ties and more than 10,000 peo­ple have been af­fected by evac­u­a­tion or­ders.

The en­tire Dis­trict of 100 Mile House, a com­mu­nity of roughly 1,800 peo­ple, was or­dered evac­u­ated Sun­day night.

Al Rich­mond, chair of the Cari­boo Re­gional Dis­trict, said the last evac­uees from 100 Mile House left around 2 a.m. Mon­day on a bus to Prince Ge­orge to re­ceive emer­gency as­sis­tance. Oth­ers headed to the Lower Main­land, he said.

Some nearby com­mu­ni­ties were un­der evac­u­a­tion alert and res­i­dents were told to pre­pare to leave at a moment’s no­tice.

Speak­ing from 100 Mile House, Rich­mond said the com­mu­nity was “smoky.”

“The power’s on, but the fire’s not in the town,” he said.


Gov­ern­ment of­fi­cials now es­ti­mate that 10,000 peo­ple have been evac­u­ated from their homes due to wild­fires burn­ing in the prov­ince.

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