The Beacher Ranch at the corner of Highway 20 and Farwell Canyon last night. Raylene and Bryan Poffenroth’s home has been refuge for Riske Creek neighbours who have been fighting to save their homes since July 7. Crews were pulled off the fires again yesterday leaving Riske Creek residents hoping the fire won’t jump the guards they have made. (Bailey Fuller photo)

Wildfires displace more than 37,000 evacuees

B.C. has spent over $80 million on wildfires already

There are more than 37,000 wildfire evacuees in B.C. as of late Sunday morning, according to transportation minister Todd Stone.

“Today we have just about 2,900 people on the fires,” said forestry minister John Rustad. The province has 24 helicopters up in the air but strong winds are affecting air operations.

“Unfortunately yesterday we did lose a helicopter in a crash.”

The accident, which occurred in the Chilcotin area, has left the pilot in stable condition, said chief fire information officer Kevin Skrepnek.

The EC-130 helicopter was operated by JB Air Inc. The Transportation Safety Board has been contacted but will not be investigating further.

Since April 1, there have been 641 fires burning 131,000 hectares across B.C., said Skrepnek. There were 162 fires burning on Saturday and 16 of those are interface fires with evacuation orders or alerts associated with them.

Skrepnek added that the weather is forecasted to remain hot, dry and windy.

“It would take an unseasonably significant rain event to really change the situation now,” he said.

The most rapidly growing fires were around Williams Lake and the Ashcroft Reserve fires. The Ashcroft Reserve fire is currently the biggest wildfire in B.C. at 42,300 hectares.

RELATED: Clinton still on evacuation alert as crews work to contain fire

The fire is largely growing along the highway, said Skrepnek, especially between Clinton and Cache Creek.

“Violent fire behaviour” has caused the BC Wildfire Service to pull back some of their crews near Williams Lake. The White Lake fire, which has jumped to the eastern side of the Fraser River, is the biggest threat to the city itself.

VIDEO: Thousands evacuate Williams Lake by school bus

Emergency Management BC deputy minister Robert Turner said that 80 per cent of those who have registered for aid have received it, for a total of 5471 payments.

Turner said that Kamloops authorities are doing their best to handle the influx of refugees.

“We have been working to open up other emergency reception centres,” said Stone. “No evacuee will be turned away.”

WATCH: Todd Stone speaks about the wildfire situation in Kamloops:

RELATED: Wildfire evacuees asked not to renew ESS early

Stone did ask evacuees who may have family elsewhere, especially in the Lower Mainland, to see if they can stay with them instead. Most evacuees are not staying in group lodging, Stone added, but are staying with friends and family or have found accommodations with local families.

According to Turner, this isn’t B.C.’s worst evacuation ever.

“The 2003 fire season we saw 50,000 evacuees in B.C.,” said Turner. “The difference this time is the geographic scope and that it’s early in the fire season.”

There are evacuation centres set up in Kamloops, Prince George, Surrey and Chilliwack.

VIDEO: Chilliwack prepares for Williams Lake fire evacuees

“They are set up as a contingency,” said Turner, noting that any future waves of evacuees could cause more Lower Mainland evacuees to be set up.”

Just Posted

No one hurt after construction crane tips over in Nanaimo’s north end

Incident happened Wednesday morning at Turner Road and Uplands Drive

Names picked for Nanaimo’s new automated garbage trucks

Optimus Grime and other new trucks will provide automated pickup to more homes starting in July

VIDEO: Regional district and B.C. Transit show off NextRide bus technology

New technology for Nanaimo bus riders will allow for real-time tracking

Marine Search and Rescue loaning out life jackets because Kids Don’t Float

Kids Don’t Float campaign was announced earlier this month

Gate taken away from Nanaimo’s Discontent City

Campers resist removal of gate from what had been a fenced-in site

No one hurt after construction crane tips over in Nanaimo’s north end

Incident happened Wednesday morning at Turner Road and Uplands Drive

LETTER TO THE EDITOR: More rental units desperately needed on mid Island

Condos do not house the poor or the working poor, says letter writer

Man dead after crashing vehicle into hydro pole and tree in Gibsons

Dog also hurt in collision, which happened Wednesday morning

Season preview: Timbermen looking to take the next step

Nanaimo’s senior A lacrosse team starts the WLA season this week on the road

LETTER TO THE EDITOR: Tax break wasn’t well-thought-out

Council had months to set out priorities and objectives. They failed to do so, says letter writer

NRE will present business plan to the public this month

Nanaimo Recycling Exchange plans public engagement sessions for May 26 and May 30

Nanaimo Ladysmith Public Schools plans to expand focus school program

If someone asked a class of Fairview Community School students about reading… Continue reading

Study recommends jurors receive more financial and psychological support

Federal justice committee calls for 11 policy changes to mitigate juror stress

Research needed on impact of microplastics on B.C. shellfish industry: study

SFU’s department of biological sciences recommends deeper look into shellfish ingesting microbeads

Most Read