Order Lifted for Some, but Danger Remains
Prince George, B.C. – As residents of the City of Williams Lake head home, Minister of Public Safety, Mike Farnworth stresses there is still a threat, and those residents must be prepared to leave the area at a moments notice.
Minister Farnworth says while pleased to hear the announcement that some can return home, the danger remains “We urge continued caution. we all understand that lives were disrupted in Williams Lake, and we understand the desire to get home and get back to your day to day routine and some semblance of normalcy back, but our first priority and foremost interest, must be public safety, so residents should use an abundance of caution as they determine their unique needs before rushing home.”
Not all areas are clear for re-entry, so Farnworth urges all evacuees to be clear on which areas are open for re-entry and which remain closed.
He says residents must also be prepared in the event an evacuation order is issued again.
Farnworth doesn’t believe the lifting of the evacuation order for some areas of Williams Lake was premature “The decision on the lifting of the evacuation order is based on the latest information that we have from the fire experts and emergency management BC on the ground. Decisions are reviewed twice a day in terms of the conditions. We work with the RCMP and the community on when to lift an order and it is always done with public safety being paramount. That is why it was stressed clear, that part of the area is being safe enough to lift the evacuation order, but other areas continue to remain under the evacuation order.”
RCMP Staff Sergeant Annie Linteau says residents who are returning can fully expect to be greeted by checkpoints at the major entry points to Williams Lake. She also says those areas that remain under evacuation will remain closed and no entry will be permitted to those areas.
Minister Farnworth encourages all residents to register with the Cariboo Regional District’s Emergency Alert system so they can be contacted by text, phone call or email should the situation call for another evacuation.
“There is still cause for concern” says BC Wildfire Chief Information Officer Kevin Skrepnek “There are still active fires out there, particularly in the Chilcotin area and the air quality is sub par in most areas.”
There continues to be the potential for lightning across the province, says Skrepnek, and there is more wind in the forecast “Moderate to strong winds, potentially some gusts in the 40 kilometer per hour range are expected in many of the areas where we are already responding to fires.”
“We want residents to be very cognizant of the fact there still are, multiple, large, uncontained fires burning throughout the Cariboo region” says Skrepnek ” I think the fact the evacuation alert remains in place speaks to that real clear and present danger that is still a factor in many areas of the Cariboo and that people should still be prepared to leave.”