More homes evacuated, highways closed as BC wildfires continue

Jul 11 2017, 3:36 am

More than 10,000 British Columbians have now been forced from their homes as wildfires continue to wreak havoc, threatening homes and livelihoods throughout the province.

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On Sunday night, at least 128 new fires began across BC. In addition, some existing fires grew in size, as a result of weather changes such as wind shifts, like the one such that resulted in an evacuation order for 100 Mile House – a community of almost 2,000.

As well, evacuations are already in effect in Ashcroft, Cache Creek, Princeton, Quesnel, Williams Lake, Anahim Lake, Alexis Creek First Nation, Alexander First Nation, 105 Mile House, and 108 Mile House, among others.

On Monday, a total of 300 firefighters and staff were scheduled to arrive in BC from Alberta, Saskatchewan and Ontario to assist with the firefighting efforts.

These numbers are in addition to the 1,000 firefighters and 600 support personnel already battling the blaze, according to BC Minister of Forests John Rustad.

“The fire situation continues to be very difficult, with fires that are very challenging to actually attack because of the intensity,” said Rustad over the weekend.

As of Monday, there were approximately 220 wildfires currently burning in British Columbia.

The extended weather forecast is calling for continued hot, dry weather, with risks of thunderstorms in many parts of the province.

❗️ #firefighting #bcfires

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$100 million in aid announced

On Sunday, both the province’s outgoing Premier Christy Clark and Premier-designate John Horgan travelled to Kamloops to meet with those who were forced from their homes and are now taking shelter at evacuation centres.

While there, Clark announced $100 million in provincial aid for those impacted by the fires.

“As the full force of the fire becomes clear, British Columbians need to know that government support will be sustained,” she said. The funds are meant to provide “impacted communities and residents the resources needed to rebuild.”

Clark added that the transition team for the  the incoming government “has been briefed” on the establishment of the fund.

“I know British Columbians across the province stand ready to lend a helping hand,” said Horgan. “Whatever these wildfires throw at us, we will overcome it.”

Federal government responds as well

The Canadian government has also announced its plan to provide aid to the province.

“On behalf of the Federal Government… I have accepted a request for federal assistance in dealing with the wildfire situation,” said Ralph Goodale,  Federal Minister of Public Safety and Emergency Preparedness.

“The Government Operations Centre is working diligently to coordinate the federal response to ensure that help is provided as soon as possible, and will continue to monitor and assess the wildfire situation as it evolves.”

The Canadian Armed Forces has deployed a CC-177 Globemaster III, a CC-130J Hercules, two CH-147F Chinook, and three Ch-146 Griffon to BC to help in the wildfire fight.

Air quality advisories in effect

Numerous air quality advisories as a result of smoke from the fired have been issued across the province as well. These advisories include:

Roads and highways closed, detours in effect

Numerous roads and highways across the province have also been closed or are operating at reduced capacity. These include:

  • Hwy. 1 westbound is closed 4 km west of Savona because of Forest Fire for all traffic destined for Cache Creek. Detour not available. No estimated time of opening; assessment ongoing.
  • Hwy. 20 open to eastbound traffic only. Closed to westbound traffic (Except Emergency Vehicles and First Responders) at the Chilcotin Bridge, 25 km west of Williams Lake. No detour available.
  • Hwy. 24 Westbound: closed at Horse Lake Road (31 km east of Junction with Highway 97 North) for West Bound traffic Destined for 100 Mile House. Highway 24 Open at Horse Lake Road for West Bound traffic Destined for Clinton.
  • Hwy. 5A Both directions: Closed in both directions at Junction with Highway 3 (Highway 3 is open) in Princeton and 29 KMS North of Princeton at Allison Lake Provincial Park because of Forest Fire. Estimated time of opening not available. Detour not available. Alternate route: Hwy 3, Hwy 97 and Hwy 97C.
  • Hwy. 97 Both directions: Closed (Except Emergency Vehicles and First Responders) from Junction of Hwy 1 in Cache Creek to Clinton because of Forest Fire. No detour available, no access to Highway 99. No estimated time of opening;
  • Hwy. 97 closed in both directions (Except Emergency Vehicles and First Responders) at Canim Hendrix Intersection (2 km north of 100 Mile House) to Timothy Lake Road junction (25 km north of 100 Mile House) due to fires. No alternate route. Assessment in progress.
  • Hwy. 97 Northbound: open to northbound traffic from Williams Lake and closed southbound (Except Emergency Vehicles and First Responders) 15 km south of Quesnel due to Forest Fire. No estimated time of opening; assessment ongoing.
  • Hwy. 97C Westbound: Closed from Logan Lake to Ashcroft because of Forest Fire. Local traffic only, until further notice. Watch for traffic control. Estimated time of opening is currently not available; Assessment in progress.
  • Highway 99: Closed in both directions (Except Emergency Vehicles and First Responders) from Junction with Highway 12, at Lillooet to Junction with Highway 97 North, in Cache Creek (74.7 km) because of Forest Fire. No estimated opening time.

For the latest and most up-to-date road closures, visit DriveBC.

Eric ZimmerEric Zimmer

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