Indigenous Peoples and Human Rights

August 18, 2023

Yellowknife: 19,000 Evacuated -- Structures Burning in B.C.

Saturday night update: Widespread destruction in BC:

Saturday, Aug. 19, 2023 -- British Columbia, Canada wildfires -- Tragically, the agency confirms that the spread of the fire has impacted communities in the North Shuswap. The Bush Creek wildfire jumped across Highway 1 between Chase and Sorrento. The Trans Canada Highway through the Shuswap remains closed. Read more: 
Fled wildfire by boat in BC: The Lower East Adams Lake wildfire has prompted several evacuation orders in the Shuswap Lake area east of Kamloops, B.C., in what officials say is the "most devastating" day for fires in the region's history.
The Columbia Shuswap Regional District (CSRD) and First Nations in the area issued evacuation orders Friday night for the Scotch Creek, Lee Creek, Celista, Magna Bay and Little River areas on the north shore of Shuswap Lake.
The Scotch Creek and Talana Bay bridges, parts of the main access route to Highway 1, were closed, and Scotch Creek residents were told to evacuate by boat Friday night.
Those orders expanded Saturday morning to further parts of Magna Bay, while the alert in the Celista area expanded to the Scotch-Lambertson forest service road area.
On the south bank of Shuswap Lake, the fire forced 135 properties to evacuate in Turtle Valley while residents of Chase and Sorrento were placed on evacuation alert by the Thompson-Nicola Regional District.

Below: Saturday, 2:30 pm local time: Evacuate now order: BC, Columbia, Canada -- Columbia Shuswap Regional District has issued an Evacuation Order for parts of Sorrento and parts of Skimikin. The Evacuation Alert area has been expanded for additional properties in the Sorrento and Skimikin areas. Evacuation Order people must leave the designated area immediately. Failure to do so could result in injury and loss of life


Saturday mid day: Another evacuation alert has been issued for B.C.’s fire-ravaged Shuswap region. On Saturday morning, the Columbia Shuswap Regional District said a wildfire burning near Sorrento is creating a risk to properties and safety.
The alert is on the south side of Shuswap Lake – directly across from the Lower East Adams Lake blaze – and includes the areas of Blind Bay, Balmoral, Notch Hill and Carl. Read Global News

Saturday, August 19, 2023 Update

Cabin Radio: Northwest Territories government says over 19,000 have been evacuated from Yellowknife

The NWT government believes more than 19,000 people have successfully fled Yellowknife and the surrounding area as a wildfire draws closer.

In all, the Yellowknife region had a population of 22,243 at the last official estimate.

The NWT’s environment and communities minister, Shane Thompson, said about 1,000 of those remaining are essential staff. Read more

Cabin Radio: Camping and where to say

Financial Assistance: General, Gwich'in, Inuit, more

Cabin Radio: Getting out

Kelowna, B.C., Canada

Structures burn in Kelowna, British Columbia, Canada

Saturday UPDATE: 6:45 a.m.

Castanet reports:

Residents in Kelowna and West Kelowna who were actually able to get some sleep through the night are once again waking up to the sounds of helicopters overhead, as air support returns to fight the massive fires burning in the area.

Many of the thousands of people who've been evacuated in West Kelowna, Kelowna and Lake Country are waking Saturday morning, anxiously waiting to learn if their homes remain standing, as the rising sun burns bright pink through the smoky skies.

While officials have yet to confirm any numbers, Castanet watched as several homes were destroyed by the McDougall Creek fire above Westside Road, near Highway 97, Friday afternoon. This came after much of Traders Cove and Bear Creek Road were destroyed the night before.

After the strong winds pushed the fire to the north Thursday and Friday morning, the winds shifted Friday afternoon, pushing the fire back towards a number of neighbourhoods. Satellite fire data shows much of the fire activity through the night occurred on the southern and western flanks.

Scotch Creek, BC, evacuate notice Friday night

Kelowna, BC: Structures burning, evacuation ordered. UPDATE: Aug. 18 @ 2:38 am) - Officials have confirmed there’s been some structural loss overnight due to the McDougall Creek wildfire.

As the fire remains very active and unpredictable, firefighters continue to work on interface areas of McDougall Creek to protect property and infrastructure in West Kelowna.

Wildfire posted Aug 18, 2023 @ 12:30am by Megan Trudeau
Houses destroyed in Traders Cove, people took to the lake to escape flames
It’s been a terrifying night so far for West Kelowna and Kelowna residents as fire crews continue to battle the McDougall Creek wildfire.

The fire started moving down towards Westside Road this evening, spreading north rapidly on the west side of Okanagan Lake. All of Rose Valley and West Kelowna Estates residents were told to leave immediately.

The Vernon ESS Reception Centre has also been opened to accommodate evacuees from Kelowna. It's located at Kal Tire Place at 3445 43rd Ave and will be open until 2 am before reopening at 9 am.

"Hotel accommodations in Vernon are extremely limited," the City of Vernon noted in a release. "Evacuees are strongly encouraged to reach out to family or friends for assistance as a primary option."

Video confirms that structures were taken out by the blaze in the Traders Cove area.Kelowna evacuation area and shelter

Yellowknife, Northwest Territories, Canada

Reuters on YouTube

(Below) It's 7:45 am Friday morning. Now, an Air North flight is headed to Yellowknife from the Yukon, as thousands wait to be evacuated. There's also a Canadian North, and a WestJet, both enroute from Calgary right now. On Twitter, one person said Canadian Air canceled their flight, and put them on another plane. Not sure why Canadian Air doesn't have a flight going in. Censored News.

( Below) It's 7 am in Yellowknife Friday morning -- with 20,000 people ordered to evacuate, there is only one Canada North flight headed into Yellowknife from Calgary. (The other flight headed in that direction is Canwest, an air ambulance/charter.) Censored News

Cabin Radio reports -- Friday is set to offer a critical 24 hours in the Northwest Territories’ race to evacuate its capital before a wildfire can reach Yellowknife’s city limits.

Around 20,000 residents were told on Wednesday evening to get out by noon on Friday.

Thousands have made the trip by car but around 5,000 people without vehicles are being gradually airlifted to safety, a mission held up by a weather delay on Thursday.
By Thursday evening, 1,500 people had been taken out on mercy flights – and more on scheduled flights, some of which are still running while others have been scrapped.

(Below) Thursday night: Flight Radar is showing very few planes coming into Yellowknife, considering 20,000 people have to evacuate. Other communities have to evacuate nearby as well. Right now, this large plane, Swoop, is coming in from Edmonton. A WestJet is coming in from Calgary, where many people are being evacuated to. After price gouging was exposed on Twitter, showing a price of more than $4,000, to fly out, airlines quickly dropped their fares late today. A couple hours ago, WestJet had flights out for $90. Air Canada's flight out to Calgary at 7 am, Friday, for $224 has a three-hour delay. -- Censored News

Northwest Territories government said:
"There are currently 21 evacuation flights with nearly 2,000 seats available scheduled on Friday, August 18. Depending on the turnaround of flights and need, additional flights can be organized for Saturday, August 19."

Evacuation routes and flights

Cabin Radio live Thursday:

The Yellowknife Women’s Society took matters into its own hands, chartering an aircraft of its own to get people at its Spruce Bough and Women’s Centre facilities, plus the Salvation Army shelter, out of the city.

“We have arranged special transportation and accommodations and extra support for these participants, and they are currently out of Yellowknife and en route,” society chair Katy Pollock told Cabin Radio by email.

A mercy flight taking Yellowknife hospital patients to safety was canceled on Thursday, leaving nurses unsure how they’ll safely leave in the face of an oncoming wildfire.

Yellowknife residents have been ordered to exit the city and head south before noon on Friday, but nurses told Cabin Radio they are now being told to stay with no advice as to when a rearranged flight might depart.

Why Thursday’s planned flight for patients did not take place has not been made clear, but the NWT’s health authority acknowledged it had “aborted” such an attempt, saying evacuations are complex in nature.

“Staging of a small number of patients for transport had begun today and then was aborted as NTHSSA was informed of changes,” the authority said, using an initialism for itself.

Reuters reports

Alberta has set up three official evacuee reception centers for those leaving by road but the closest is more than 1,100 km (680 miles) from Yellowknife.

The deadline for residents to leave Yellowknife is noon on Friday (1800 GMT).

Yellowknife Mayor Rebecca Alty said special teams were clear-cutting trees close to the city in an effort to prevent flames from spreading. They also planned to use fire retardant while ensuring sprinkler systems are working, she told the CBC.

Canada's two largest airlines said they were adding flights from Yellowknife and capping fares following outrage on social media about some soaring prices.

Some of the evacuees will be flown to Calgary, in Alberta. Iain Bushell, Calgary's emergency management director, said the city could accommodate and feed 5,000 people.

"We are prepared to house them and help them for as long as they need," he told a televised briefing.

In a social media post, the Northwest Territories fire service said a fire that had been threatening Hay River, a community of some 3,000 further south on Great Slave Lake, had stalled overnight.

So far about 134,000 square km (52,000 square miles) of land in Canada have been scorched, more than six times a 10-year average. Nearly 200,000 people have been forced to evacuate at some point this season.

Central Okanagan BC, Canada: Leave Immediately Evacuation Order -- All properties along Westside Road from Traders Cove to Nahun are now under Evacuation Order due the McDougall Creek Wildfire. Evacuees must leave the area immediately and evacuate northward on Westside Road towards Vernon.

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