Stay off the roads and out of hotels in BC’s southern interior unless it’s essential
The province of B.C. is in a state of emergency as of the evening of Friday, Aug. 18 due to the “rapidly deteriorating” wildfire situation in the interior, Premier David Eby said in a press conference.
There are 20,000 people on evacuation alert, and 15,000 on evacuation order in the interior. People in West Kelowna are watching their homes burn before their eyes. People are being turned around near Salmon Arm because a fire jumped the highway there.
Officials says they need the roads clear and hotels available for firefighters, evacuees and healthcare workers.
Eby said the state of emergency is to let people know of the severity of the situation in the interior, and it allows them “tools to help communities and people on the frontline.” Examples of what tools are vague. The premier mentioned it allows them to access heavy equipment.
If people don’t stay off the roads in effected areas, the emergency act could allow them to legally turn people away from areas.
Provincial officials said in a press conference Thursday that a front of cold air was forecasted to collide with the ridge of high pressure that had been causing the extreme heat earlier in the week. That happened, and is accounting for the gusts of high wind, rain, cold weather and lightning across the province. This wind is what is causing fires to burn quickly and powerfully.
Currently Revelstoke is not under threat, said fire chief Stephen Derousie Friday morning. The Hiren Creek wildfire can be seen burning from town, but it’s far enough away not to be a threat. If the situation changes, people will be alerted over their phones, Derousie said.
Now is the time to have a bag packed, have an exit route, and follow evacuation orders, provincial officials say.
Stay calm and alert to what’s going on around you.
Go to www.drivebc.ca and https://www2.gov.bc.ca/gov/content/safety/wildfire-status for the latest updates.