Help pours in for B.C. wildfire evacuees
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.