B.C. wildfires: Province-wide state of emergency declared

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Published Saturday, July 8, 2017 8:59AM EDT
Last Updated Saturday, July 8, 2017 10:06AM EDT

A province-wide state of emergency has been declared in British Columbia after dozens of new wildfires destroyed buildings and forced thousands of people from their homes.

Officials say 138 new wildfires sprang up on Friday alone, destroying dozens of buildings.

Evacuation orders have been issued for the communities of:

  • Ashcroft
  • Cache Creek
  • Princeton
  • 105 Mile House
  • 108 Mile House

A wildfire raging about 200 kilometres northwest of Kamloops, on the west shore of Lac La Hache, has forced about 3,600 people out of the area.

“The forest fire is absolutely huge,” said Dave Scott, one of the evacuees. “It is cresting the top of one of the mountains and people are around me getting cattle out of the area, horses out of the area. It is very difficult indeed.”

Transportation Minister Todd Stone told the Canadian Press that declaring an emergency is necessary for coordinating the crisis response and ensuring public safety.

Scott said the normally quiet highways heading out of the evacuation zone were full of cars and trucks Friday, as people scrambled to get to safety in 100 Mile House, where two emergency centres have been set up.

“Usually you’re lucky to see five or six cars in the morning,” he said. “The highway is packed, moving at about 45 kilometres an hour.”

Continued hot, dry weather combined with forecasted thunderstorms will likely make wildfire activity worse, according to Stone.

The last time B.C. declared a state of emergency was in 2003, also because of wildfires.

For more information on growing fires visit the BC Wildfire Service, or check the Thompson-Nicola Regional District website for updates on evacuations due to the Ashcroft fire.

With files from The Canadian Press

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B.C. wildfires: Province-wide state of emergency declared

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