Across the province on Tuesday, 262 wildfires were still active, most concentrated in the Kamloops fire region, provincial officials said at a news conference. More than 6,200 properties were evacuated. Katrine Conroy, the province’s forestry, lands, natural resources and rural development minister, said she sympathizes with the disruption caused by these orders. Some cattle ranchers have expressed concern that they were given too little time to flee the major fires and too little support during the current emergency.
“I live on a ranch with cattle and other animals, and I understand the desire to stay and protect your home, your animals and your property,” Conroy said, adding that his own family members have had to leave. temporarily their home this summer. His government on Tuesday announced funding to help pastoralists and farmers facing drought conditions, loss of feed and fires threatening their herds.
“I know people are scared and frustrated, and it’s human nature to want to protect what is yours and what you have worked for years to create,” she said. “But… it’s just too dangerous to stay behind.”
“You are simply putting your own life and the lives of others at risk. We cannot ask the firefighters to risk their lives and face a wall of flames because someone made the reckless decision not to evacuate. “
We cannot ask the firefighters to risk their lives and face a wall of flames because someone made the reckless decision not to evacuate.– Katrine Conroy
Meanwhile, an RCMP spokesperson said evacuees and other residents must obey police checkpoints on the roads, as well as area restrictions. She said anger flared up several times at checkpoints, according to officers on the ground.
BC RCMP Staff Sergeant Janelle Shoihet said increased vehicle traffic due to tourism in wildfire areas put pressure on checkpoints, including some people trying to get around police-imposed area restrictions.
“There have been incidents where people have been verbally abusive towards these people who are just doing their job,” she said. “These checkpoints are set up for everyone’s safety… Don’t try to go around. “
The province said it already has enough tools to enforce area restrictions without additional fines, but said those who choose to ignore orders may later have their planned evacuation route blocked or systems blocked. communication lines, preventing them from obtaining essential information.
“The thought of losing community members terrifies me and the entire Forest Fire Department team here,” said Rick Manwaring, Deputy Minister of the Conroy Department, who oversees the Forest Fire Department. of British Columbia. “We spend every day focusing on this… I urge everyone not to underestimate forest fires under these conditions. “
The service #BCWildfire is currently performing a planned ignition on the east side of Tremont Creek (K21849) wildfire. The purpose of this ignition is to reinforce the machine guards previously built. The smoke is visible to the surrounding communities. pic.twitter.com/lusiyIOkPN
Despite recent progress containing several major fires, with the help of recent rains, weather conditions are expected to deteriorate later this week with temperatures forecast for parts of southern British Columbia up to 30 degrees high.
A total of 6,506 square kilometers have burned so far this year, an 87% increase from the average for the forest fire season of the past decade.
Meanwhile, there are 63 evacuation orders covering more than 6,200 properties, according to Emergency Management BC
On Tuesday, the Thompson-Nicola Regional District lifted its evacuation order for 90 properties near the July Mountain wildfire, near the Coquihalla Highway north of Hope.
The North Okanagan Regional District also rescinded one of its orders to evacuate areas around Irish Creek Road, which were threatened by the massive White Rock Lake wildfire, although residents remain on alert and “Must remain prepared to leave their homes again at short notice. if the fire situation changes, ”the regional authority said in a notice.
Smoke from wildfires has worsened air quality to dangerous levels in many communities in British Columbia throughout this year’s fire season. Currently, the worst-affected community is Logan Lake, 40 kilometers southwest of Kamloops – which on Tuesday reached nine times the World Health Organization’s maximum exposure amount, but was an improvement over it. a week ago, when it was 20 times higher than this guideline. It is affected by the 367 square kilometer Tremont Creek wildfire, which authorities have declared out of control.
Lumby, 20 kilometers east of Vernon, also suffered from dangerous levels of wildfire smoke on Tuesday, which exceeded the WHO guideline six times. Kamloops has also faced air pollution four times the WHO’s healthy exposure limit.
Parts of the town of Vernon itself remained on evacuation alert due to a massive forest fire nearby.
The BC Wildfire Service says the White Rock Lake fire remains out of control and evacuation orders continue for the fire-damaged communities of Monte Lake and Westwold.
However, crews calmed part of the fire’s southeast flank, closest to Lake Okanagan, while growth stalled elsewhere after a wet weekend.
But there are fears that another heat wave expected to arrive on Wednesday will intensify the fire danger.
Environment Canada has issued special weather reports covering the interior sections of the north and central coasts, parts of Vancouver Island, the interior south coast and the southern interior, calling for heat in the 30 to 30 degree range, with little relief overnight until the weekend.
Anyone placed under an evacuation order must leave the area immediately.
Evacuation centers have been set up across the province to help anyone evacuated from a community threatened by a forest fire. To find the center closest to you, visit Emergency management BC. website.
Evacuees are encouraged to register with Emergency support services online, whether or not they access the services of an evacuation center.