KAMLOOPS (NEWS 1130) – Thousands of wildfire evacuees from the Cariboo will soon be allowed to go home.
Evacuation orders impacting a large area from the north end of Lac La Hache to the 100 Mile House boundary have been downgraded to alerts.
Public Safety Minister Mike Farnworth says most of the people impacted will still have to be ready leave again if necessary.
“That order has now happened and the return is allowed, but it’ll take place in an orderly fashion.”
The 100 Mile District General Hospital emergency department has already opened to offer 24/7 urgent patient care.
The announcement came down as the federal and BC Public Safety Ministers held a news conference in Kamloops updating federal support for all the evacuees.
Meanwhile, federal Public Safety Minister Ralph Goodale says more funding is on the way from Ottawa.
“The unknown variable at the moment is how many households. At the moment, all we have is an estimate and the fires are still burning. It’s 600 times three plus this 300.”
Goodale also says Prime Minister Justin Trudeau plans to visit BC within a few days, but only when he’s assured he won’t be a distraction.
“He’ll be here in the next number of days. I can’t be precise about the exact timing, but certainly, travel to BC is high on his list.”
An evacuation order remains in effect for more than 10,000 people in and around Williams Lake.
The province remains under an extended state of emergency as 161 wildfires continue to burn, threatening homes and communities across British Columbia.
Weather is top of mind as thousands of crew members tirelessly work to keep flames away from structures. Gusts of wind have increased fire behaviour, and Navi Saini with the BC Wildfire Service says the weather is something crews are keeping a very close eye on.
“A lot of the larger fires we are dealing with in the Cariboo saw very little or even no rainfall. And there are some pockets of high activity still so the winds could increase behaviour on those.”
— Hana Mae N. Nassar (@HanaMaeNassar) July 22, 2017
Many evacuation orders have been lifted, with people from Princeton some of the latest heading home. But Chris Duffy with Emergency Management BC is urging people to be prepared at all times.
“I want to continue to remind people that there are tinder-dry conditions throughout the province.”
— Emergency Info BC (@EmergencyInfoBC) July 22, 2017