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WILDFIRES – Williams Lake residents cautiously begin returning home

Cariboo Regional District Chair Al Richmond.

The City of Williams Lake, Williams Lake Indian Band and Cariboo Regional District announced today that residents are now allowed to return to the City of Williams Lake, Sugarcane and surrounding areas in the Cariboo Regional District.

Cariboo Regional District Chair Al Richmond said that before deciding to return, residents are being encouraged to consider that wildfire activity continues in the area, air quality remains poor and the area is still on evacuation alert.

The areas that have been changed from an evacuation order to an evacuation alert include:

  •   The City of Williams Lake;
  •   Sugarcane;
  •   150 Mile House;
  •   Fox Mountain;
  •   Esler;
  •   Pine Valley; and
  •   Springhouse (see map at link below for details about all CRD areas surrounding Williams Lake).

    Due to ongoing wildfire operations, evacuation orders will remain in place for the following areas:

  •   areas north and south of Mountain House Road, including Wildwood;
  •   the Spokin Lake area;
  •   areas along Soda Creek Road and Frizzi Road;
  •   Soda Creek First Nation; and
  •   areas in the Chilcotin.
    See an overview map at http://bit.ly/2eOhZun. For detailed maps, visit cariboord.ca.

    Wildfires remain active in the area and firefighting activities continue in the area.

    “Since the area remains on evacuation alert, residents must be prepared in case the area receives a future evacuation order on short notice,” the regional district said in a news release. “Local governments may not have time to go door to door should a new evacuation order be issued.” Information about what to do when on evacuation alert is listed below.

    Air quality remains poor as a result of smoke from nearby fire activity. Those with respiratory issues, small children and the elderly should consider this before they choose to return to the area.

    Further, services such as grocery and health care may be limited for some time. Anyone choosing to return to the area should ensure that they return with basic necessities including food and prescriptions for up to seven days as well as a full tank of gas.

Residents returning to the area are encouraged to register for the Cariboo Chilcotin Emergency Notification System to receive a text, call or email regarding Evacuation Alerts and Orders: https://member.everbridge.net/index/453003085612292#/signup

While residents are able to return to the Williams Lake and surrounding areas, nearby locations remain on evacuation order and security will be in place to enforce the order in those areas.

Transportation Back Into the Area

Both the south and north routes into Williams Lake along Highway 97 are open. Residents should watch for livestock and wildlife on roads around Williams Lake as many fences have burned in the area.

Within 48 hours, arrangements to return home will be made for those who were evacuated from the community via bus. Sign up for these services at your closest ESS reception centre or by calling 1-800-585-9559.

Resiliency Centre Available

A resiliency centre will be available in Williams Lake to provide information and programs of support for wildfire evacuees.

Agencies will be available at the resiliency centre to provide services to returning residents, including Red Cross, Emergency Social Services, First Nations support services, Telus, insurance agencies, Service BC, Service Canada, SPCA, social assistance agencies, mental health and counselling support and more.

The resiliency centre will be set up at the Boitanio Mall (850 Oliver Street) and will be open from 8 a.m. to 8 p.m. daily until need subsides. Red Cross services will be available to anyone returning to the area that requires assistance. The Red Cross can be reached at 1-800-863-6582. Contact the Resiliency Centre at 250-305-0226.

Group Lodging Unavailable in Williams Lake

Group lodging through Emergency Social Services (ESS) will not be available in Williams Lake. Evacuees from other areas within the Cariboo Regional District should remain in their current locations until this situation changes.

Assessing Danger Trees on Affected Properties

For rural properties that have been impacted by wildfire, residents should be aware there may be danger trees in wildfire affected areas. Home owners and private land owners are recommended to work with an insurance agency to have an assessment done by a qualified arborist on their private property.

Remaining On Evacuation Alert

Since the area remains on evacuation alert, residents should remain prepared for an evacuation by:

  •   Having a plan to transport all family members or co-workers outside the area, should the area be brought back

    under evacuation order.

  •   Keeping essential items readily available for a quick departure, including medications, eyeglasses, valuable

    papers (i.e. insurance), immediate care needs for dependants and, if you choose, keepsakes (photographs, etc).

  •   Ensuring that any dependents are prepared for departure.
  •   Ensuring that pets and livestock remain in a safe area.
  •   Ensuring that you have accommodation options for your family, if possible. A Reception Centre will be made

    available again if required.

  •   Monitoring reliable news sources for evacuation order information. Further information will be issued as it

    becomes available.

    City of Williams Lake residents can find information via the City of Williams Lake Facebook page at

    facebook.com/CityWilliamsLake and Twitter @CityWL.
    For Cariboo Regional District information, visit cariboord.ca or facebook.com/CRDEmergencyOperations or

    @CaribooRD or call the CRD’s public information line at 1-866-759-4977.
    Find Williams Lake Indian Band updates on Facebook at http://www.facebook.com/williamslakeband/.

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About Mel Rothenburger (4815 Articles)
ArmchairMayor.ca is a forum about Kamloops and the world. It has more than one million views. Mel Rothenburger is the former Editor of The Daily News in Kamloops, B.C. (retiring in 2012), and past mayor of Kamloops (1999-2005). At ArmchairMayor.ca he is the publisher, editor, news editor, city editor, reporter, webmaster, and just about anything else you can think of. He is grateful for the contributions of several local columnists. This blog doesn't require a subscription but gratefully accepts donations to help defray costs.

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