“No evacuee will be turned away” – Transportation Minister Todd Stone
Prince George, B.C. – It is estimated about 25% of the people forced from their homes in Williams Lake and Loon Lake last night, made the decision to head to Prince George.
Estimates are that, so far, between 36,000 and 37,000 people have been forced from their homes because of wildfires in the central interior and in Kelowna.
While that number is staggering, it is not yet the worst displacement of people in B.C. because of fires. The worst was in 2003, when 50 thousand people in the Okanagan were forced from their homes.
But the 2017 fire season is still in its early days and with a lot of summer ahead , there is little likelihood things will improve any time soon “With the size of the fires we have burning, it would take an unseasonably significant rain event to change the situation” says Kevin Skrepnek, Chief Information Officer with the BC Wildfire Service.
The White Lake fire, which is the one threatening Williams Lake, remains about 7-10 kms west of the City.
Transportation Minister, Todd Stone says certainly, Kamloops is “At the point of being stretched,” but adds that City has been busy developing new Emergency Centres . The Sandman Centre has been developed as a lodging site, augmenting the Thompson Rivers University which is already at capacity. “No evacuee will be turned away” says Stone.
Emergency Management BC Assistant Deputy Minister Robert Turner says with the numbers of communities under threat, the plan is to open up further centres in the lower mainland in Chilliwack and Surrey. Neither has accepted any evacuees yet “If we get another wave of evacuees, we will be directing them to Chilliwack and Cloverdale (Surrey).”