IF A MASSIVE WILDFIRE was roaring towards your home, and you were told to evacuate, would you? A surprising number wouldn’t.
As crews fought — unsuccessfully, in large part — to save Monte Lake from the massive 45,000-hectare White Rock Lake fire during the past two days, evacuation alerts turned into evacuation orders. And some people stayed home.
That’s a problem. The police, wildfire personnel and local fire department volunteers tasked with convincing reluctant residents to leave are not only taken away from other work, but are put in danger themselves as wildfire closes in.
Since Thursday night, authorities have practically been begging property owners to pack up and get out when they’re told.
Public Safety Minister Mike Farnworth got quite testy about it Friday. “These brave firefighters very nearly paid with their lives,” he said of the Monte Lake situation. “By any measure, this is completely unacceptable.”
Mel Rothenburger is a former mayor of Kamloops and a retired newspaper editor. He is a regular contributor to CFJC, publishes the ArmchairMayor.ca opinion website, and is a director on the Thompson-Nicola Regional District board. He can be reached at email@example.com.