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October 27, 2017 4:40 pm

‘I’ll Stay Until the Bitter End’ says Williams Lake Mayor in Response to Evacuation Threat

Tuesday, July 11, 2017 @ 2:20 PM

Williams Lake, B.C. – The City of Williams Lake may be on an evacuation alert but its mayor isn’t planning on leaving town anytime soon.

“I’ll stay until the bitter end,” Walt Cobb tells 250News. “I think I’ll be at the fire centre most of the time but I won’t leave until the fire department pulls out of town and the first responders pull out of town.”

Mayor Walt Cobb – photo courtesy City of Williams Lake

The City issued an evacuation alert city-wide last night due to the threat of more unwanted weather and notes things haven’t changed since then.

“No, nothing has changed and the weather front wasn’t expected to come this way either until this evening or tomorrow anyway. But we’ve had no new fire information that has changed, they’re still expecting thunder and lightning.”

Cobb says the fear is that a change in wind patterns will push out of control wildfires west of town towards the city.

“That’s the concern. There’s a number of fires out there and spot fires as well and if we have lightning on top of it and they all combine it will be a tsunami.”

He adds it could mean a lot more evacuees headed to Prince George should an evacuation order be issued.

“We have 12,000 people in city boundaries itself and when you combine the whole area around us – 150 Mile, Commodore Heights, Chimney Lake there could be 20,000 people.”

Cobb says he’s spoken to Prince George Mayor Lyn Hall today about that possibility and has been assured the city will be able to handle an influx of people.

“He indicated they’re all ready to go, they’ve opened up extra rooms at the college, the university in the gymnasium. They’ve got cots all ready and we really appreciate the help.”

In the meantime, he says food trucks; gas trucks and medical supplies have all been making it into Williams Lake.  As for how people in town are coping though, he says it’s been a mixed-bag so far.

“It varies. Some people are panicked, which is not good because it’s very, very stressful. Some people are calm and some are very optimistic that this is just a warning – which it is – they’re confident it’s not going to happen.”

And despite the fact wildfires surround his city, Cobb says he’s very happy with the response by the BC Wildfire Service.

“I can’t commend them enough. They’ve done an exceptional job of keeping us informed. Our airport was evacuated and we had to evacuate our fire centre but that’s up and running now and back in full force. No, those guys are doing an excellent job.”


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