Wildfires in British Columbia: Evacuee homes fill up, evacuations continue

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Emergency Management BC says housing in many communities is reaching capacity and encourages anyone who has self-evacuated to a larger community to consider returning home

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VICTORIA – The provincial government says accommodations for wildfire evacuees are filling up as flames and smoke from many fires spread, forcing more people out of their homes and contributing to a strange, acrid haze that covers towns in neighboring Alberta.

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Emergency Management BC says in a press release that in many communities housing is reaching capacity and is encouraging anyone who has self-evacuated to a larger community due to smoky conditions to consider returning home.

He notes that since the smoke conditions change and move, self-evacuation to another community will not ensure that a person’s exposure will be reduced.

Evacuations continued in British Columbia over the weekend, with the Thompson-Nicola Regional District and Kootenay Regional District increasing orders for people to leave their homes.

Smoke from the fires in British Columbia, along with others in northern Saskatchewan, Manitoba and northwestern Ontario, has resulted in special air quality advisories in a large part of the West.

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Environment Canada meteorologist Justin Shelley said that although the smoke problems in Alberta last week were largely due to the fires in British Columbia, a change in the wind meant most of the smoke in cities like Edmonton and Calgary now originate from other wildfires in northern Saskatchewan.

“It’s a multi-layered smoky mess,” said Edmonton’s Shelley, explaining that the wind direction differs with altitude, so smoke can blow from different provinces at different levels.

The BC Wildfire Service said there were more than 300 fires. The Saskatchewan Public Safety Agency, meanwhile, said on Friday that there were well over 100 active fires in that province.

Emergency Management BC on Sunday asked people to start planning where they would go if they were ordered to evacuate, and encouraged them to check with their insurance companies to see if their evacuation costs are covered.

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“If possible, the best option would be to arrange to stay with family or friends, so that commercial accommodation has capacity for evacuees who have no other choice,” the emergency agency said. in a Sunday press release.

In the Okanagan region, where crews are battling the out-of-control 480-acre Brenda Creek wildfire, authorities continued to encourage residents to be prepared in the event of a power outage.

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A central Okanagan emergency operations press release on Sunday said firefighters from local departments in the area are mitigating fuel around utility poles while monitoring and protecting BC Hydro’s transmission corridor across the fire zone.

He said an aerial examination of the transmission line showed no damage, but the statement warned the fire was still nearby and crews “were on standby and ready to respond at any time.”


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