FORT ST. JOHN, B.C. – Ground and air crews are preparing for another intense day battling dozens of out-of-control wildfires that are raging across B.C.’s central interior.
The fires chased thousands of people from their homes on Friday and Saturday and prompted the declaration of a rare province-wide state of emergency. More than 200 fires were burning Saturday, many of them out of control.
The B.C. Wildfire Service says crews are focusing on public safety by keeping the flames away from communities and protecting transportation routes. Officials say some buildings have been destroyed, but they didn’t release numbers.
The three biggest fires range in size from approximately 14 to 20 square kilometres and have forced thousands of people from their homes in Ashcroft, Cache Creek, 100 Mile House, 105 Mile House, 108 Mile House, 150 Mile House and the Alexis Creek area.
One man who moved into his new home just two weeks ago watched helplessly as it was destroyed by a wildfire.
Wilfred Duncan lives on the Ashcroft Indian Reserve and is a retired forestry firefighter with 20 years experience.
But he says he’s never seen anything like the Ashcroft blaze.
Angie Thorne also lives on the reserve and says she and her husband managed to escape with their camper trailer, but flames engulfed their home.
PREMIER DESIGNATE TO VISIT KAMLOOPS
B.C.’s incoming premier, John Horgan, says he’s been in contact with the minister in charge of firefighting operations to offer his support in the wildfire crisis. He says John Rustad has spoken to the federal government and received a pledge that Ottawa is ready to do whatever it can to help.
Horgan will travel to Kamloops Sunday to meet with people affected by wildfires in B.C.’s Interior as well as emergency operations and social services workers.
He says evacuees, frontline firefighters and first responders need to know that everyone in the province is behind them.
NORTHEAST B.C. FIRE SITUATION
The forest fire situation remains calm in northeast B.C. as of Sunday morning with only two very small forest fires reported in this region. Both fires are only 90 square metres in size and believed to have been started by lightning. As of 2 p.m. Saturday, the fire danger rating in Northeast B.C. ranges from low to moderate due to the storms that moved through the region Friday evening.
You can see a map of all the forest fires in the province at http://openmaps.gov.bc.ca/kml/wildfire/map.html
MP ZIMMER STAYING UP-TO-DATE ON FIRES
Bob Zimmer, Member of Parliament for Prince George-Peace River-Northern Rockies and Chair of the BC/Yukon Caucus spoke to Minister John Rustad Saturday night regarding the wildfire situation across B.C and released the following statement.
“I am deeply concerned to hear that this is the highest number of communities under evacuation order in BC’s history and is affecting more than 7,000 people. I want to thank Minister Rustad and BC Fire Services for the update on the situation in BC,” said Mr. Zimmer. “We want to be sure that affected residents have as much information as possible at this time in order to keep their families safe.”