Wildfire Forces Evacuations, Threatens Structures Near Kamloops, B.C.

Wildfire Forces Evacuations, Threatens Structures Near Kamloops, B.C.

By The Canadian Press

A helicopter is used to battle a wildfire burning on the top of a mountain near Ashcroft, B.C., on Monday, July 10, 2017. For the first time in days, a new evacuation order has been issued for homes near one of the scores of wildfires raging in British Columbia. (THE CANADIAN PRESS/Darryl Dyck)

KAMLOOPS, B.C. – A rapidly-moving wildfire has forced people to flee dozens of properties east of Kamloops, B.C.

The Thompson-Nicola Regional District issued an evacuation order for 39 properties in Monte Lake Wednesday night, saying a fire burning in the area posed an “imminent threat” to people and property.

Another 58 properties were put on evacuation alert, warned that they may need to leave at a moment’s notice.

Evacuees have been told to head to Kamloops, where thousands of others have taken refugee as more than 150 fires burn across the province.

The BC Wildfire Service said the fire was about 60 hectares in size Wednesday night, and was threatening multiple structures.

The agency said 31 firefighters were working to tackle the blaze and airtankers were working on containment.

Officials with the wildfire service have warned that persistent hot, dry weather in southern parts of the province is likely to make the fire situation worse in coming weeks.

There are still approximately 19,100 people displaced, and Robert Turner of Emergency Management BC said more support is coming for Kamloops and Prince George, the communities that have helped most of those residents forced out of their homes.

“The commitment and dedication of these people has seen some truly heroic efforts and I think we’re finding now with the situation going on for so long that a lot of them are getting tired,” Turner said, adding the relentless fire conditions are also taking a toll on fire crews and volunteers.

He said the province is working with local governments to ensure any additional support needed, including human resources, will be made available as people remain out of their homes.

For the first time in days, a new evacuation order was issued by the Thompson-Nicola Regional District late Tuesday night for residents on a handful of properties northeast of Clinton, about 350 kilometres north of Vancouver.

The 615-square kilometre wildfire has been threatening the region for nearly three weeks and already destroyed dozens of homes from Ashcroft north to Loon Lake, east of Clinton.

RCMP announced Wednesday that a wildfire that raced through a Lake Country neighbourhood in the Okanagan and destroyed eight homes was arson.

Cpl. Dan Moskaluk said police want to speak with a group of adults who were using the recreational area near where the fire started on July 15 and are also encouraging anyone with photos or video footage to contact police.

He said several residents suffered substantial financial and emotional damage and it was lucky that no one was injured or killed by the fast-moving flames.

Fires have charred about 3,790 square kilometres of timber, bush and grassland in B.C., since April 1, and crews are continuing to try to bring more than 150 wildfires under control.

CP - The Canadian Press