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October 27, 2017 4:29 pm

No Timeline for a Return to Williams Lake

Wednesday, July 19, 2017 @ 1:53 PM

Prince George, B.C. –  There are now 140 fires burning in B.C,   4 of which were new fires  that were sparked yesterday.

“Certainly  welcome  news”  says Chief Fire Information Officer Kevin Skrepnek,  who adds there are  still 27 fires of note in the province,  15 of them  are interface fires  and the activity around Williams Lake  continues..

The Wildwood fire is estimated to be 13,215 hectares  and is 20% contained.  Skrepnek  says  crews continue to create a guard around that fire.   The White Lake  fire,  which  cut off  access on Highway 97 north  is smaller than previously  reported,   as  crews were able to do more accurate mapping.  It is now estimated to be 8107 hectares,  and 10% contained.

There is no indication of when the Williams Lake residents may be able to return home.  “The wildfire  situation is one portion of the consideration that a local government  has to make when they put an ( evacuation) order in place” says Skrepnek “There are issues around utilities,  issues around infrastructure   around  getting that city  prepared to return to some semblance of   normal, that all takes time.  It’s  not  just a matter of  when the fire situation calms down, and for that matter, we are  still  having active  fires in  almost all directions  around Williams Lake,  so  at this point, I can’t offer a time line on it, and it’s going to  depend on a lot of those factors I just mentioned on when  people can expect re-entry.”

The Gustafsen fire is  estimated 5700 hectares,  and 45 % contained.

The Hanceville  fire is  estimated at 125,000 hectares  and is  0% contained, however,  Skrepnek says there has been progress on building some fire guards.

Elephant Hill ( previously known as the Ashcroft  fire)  is estimated at 52,600 hectares and is  30% contained.

Skrepnek says  the weather  has  been  “calm” for the past couple of days, “relative to what we have been experiencing over the past few weeks.  Unfortunately there is still a risk of thunderstorms across many parts of southern B.C.  there  will be some gusty winds with those storms and any lightning that results  from  the storm, obviously, a key concern for us.”

The forecast  is calling for rain  in  a number of  areas in southern B.C.  tomorrow “We certainly hope that rain does materialize” says Skrepnek “But having said that, it looks like it’s going to be a very brief event.  Beyond tomorrow,  a return to more hot and dry.”.  He says the rain tomorrow “Might be a very temporary reprieve.”

Since April 1st of this year,  there have been  674 fires in B.C.,  which have consumed an estimated 353 thousand hectares.




There are several things that need to happen before people can return home

Fires in the area must be stable or going in a direction to not harm the town
Hospital and basic emergency services need to be in place making sure the hospital is safe to use
Basic needs like food, toiletries, gas and store staff to man these places are in place (rotten foods and drinks need to be removed and places disinfected as well)
Utilities need to be restored hydro, gas, water, sewer, cell and landline services in place and operational. All areas have power and checking for gas leaks
Have counsellors and other needed basic services in place

Lots more needs as well before residents can safely return but the above is a basic list but depending on if the infrastructure is damaged or how much cleaning is needed dictates how long the wait will be to get back in

That’s about it, wind rules the day in the end, PG is going an unbelievable job, just no words to express the effort people are putting in.

we all live in the north, one day, we may be leaning on them. So we are either paying back or paying forward. This is what makes us northerners.

To put in perspective how much has burned, imagine from here to hixon, and here to cluculz, 3600 square kilometers.

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