Williams Lake Area Not Yet Safe for Return
Prince George, B.C. – Day 19 since the first evacuation order was given in the South Cariboo. While those from 100 Mile and area have been allowed to return home, there is still no word on when evacuees from Williams Lake can do the same.
At this evening’s town hall meeting , Williams Lake Director of Community Services, Geoff Paynton says there is no timeline for the evacuation order to be lifted.
Paynton says in the meantime, there is work being done to prepare the community for the day when folks can return, including the development of a “Resiliency Centre” where a number of organizations will be located to assist any returnee should they need it.
“Right now I would say we are ready for re-entry” says Paynton “but being ready and being in a place that is safe for re-entry are two different things.”
Vice Chair of the Cariboo Regional District John Massier, says it all depends on getting the word from the BC Wildfire Service on when they think it would be safe for people to return home “We are in a bit of a holding pattern right now, waiting for favourable weather.”
The forecast is less than favourable, with more hot dry conditions, lightning and gusty winds expected for the next couple of days. The B.C. Wildfire Service said earlier today the combination will likely mean new fires in the region, and could change the behaviour of the existing fires.
Cariboo North MP Todd Doherty was emotional as he talked about his recent tour of the region. “I was shocked” said Doherty as he spoke of his drive west of Williams Lake, describing mile after mile of charred ground “It’s a moonscape.” Yet, the resiliency of the Cariboo people cannot be discounted said Doherty, who said despite losing ranchland, losing property, losing herds, “They are there to fight another day.”
Doherty said while he knows the evacuees want desperately to go home, it is just not safe to do so.