The Village of Zeballos has expanded its evcuation order due to the danger of falling debris and slides. The original order was imposed on Aug. 18 when this fire near the village was well underway. Photo by David Koch/Campbell River Mirror file

Zeballos evacuation order expanded due to danger of debris and slides

The potential for falling debris and rock slides in a section of the Village of Zeballos prompted an expanded evacuation order Friday night for nine homes, as a precautionary measure

“Everyone that was to be evacuated was notified last night. People had some advance warning that it was coming and everyone has been evacuated,” said Meredith Starkey, village deputy Chief Administrative Officer. “Everyone had different places that they went, so we were able to find housing in town for one family and most had other friends or family that they were able to stay with.”

The evacuation order issued on Zeballos Aug. 18 was expanded offically today but took effect last night due to the danger caused by a potentially unstable slope above the village that is the site of a wildfire that had been burning since early August.

“Following the preliminary post-wildfire slope assessment, the Evacuation Order on the east side of Maquinna Avenue has been expanded,” a notice on the Village of Zeballos website says.

The order issued by the village under the recommendation of the Ministry of Forests, Lands and Natural Resources Operations and Rural Development.

“All those affected were notified last night, but the Order took effect this morning at 8 a.m.” the village order says. “This Order is due to the risk of rock and debris falls. A more detailed slope stability assessment will be completed as soon as possible.”

Starkey said the order appears to be more precautionary than anything.

Since the wildfire started back in August, people have heard rocks falling but now that the rain has returned, a preliminary post-wildfire assessment was done which told them that they needed to do a more detailed one to verify the safety of the slope.

“Looking at that, they knew that there was some risk from falling debris,” Starkey said.

The situation has left people feeling a bit apprehensive but it sounds like people are holding up.

“I would say people are glad to see the rain because they’re glad for the fire to be not a threat in itself and, of course, we’re used to rain out here but there’s just a lot of uncertainty about the slope and so I think we’ll all feel better once that assessment is done and we know a little bit more about what we’re up against,” Starkey said.

One resident, Margaret Miller, who lives on the perimeter of the evacuation zone, not in it, reported to Zeballos Emergency Program’s facebook site that she was hearing loud noises coming from the slope and wanted some information.

She decided to relocate herself but has returned to her home.

When contacted by The Campbell River Mirror, she said it was quite a scary thing to hear.

“I couldn’t see anything but the noise was so loud,” Miller said. “I went to see my son who lives on the other side of the bay. He took me in for the night.”

The order posted on the Village of Zeballos’ website says:

“On the recommendation of the Ministry of Forests, Lands, and Natural Resources Operations and Rural Development, an Evacuation Order has been issued by the Village of Zeballos due to immediate danger to life safety due to potential debris falls or slides. Members of the RCMP and Zeballos Emergency Program will be expediting this action.”

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