Indigenous Peoples and Human Rights

August 19, 2023

Wildfire Devastation in British Columbia, Canada

Wildfire Devastation in British Columbia, Canada

City of Kamloops, BC -- August 19, 2023: Support for neighboring communities
The City of Kamloops activated its Emergency Operations Center at a level 1 on August 18 to support Emergency Social Services (ESS) for neighbouring communities and First Nations affected by wildfires. An ESS Reception Center and Group Lodging have been established at the McArthur Island Sport Center. The City of Kamloops has also established a camp for BC Wildfire Services crews on McArthur Island. The City’s Emergency Operations Center will remain active throughout the weekend.

Kamloops Fire and Rescue is supporting BC Wildfire Services with structural protection units deployed to the Kelowna area and to the Bush Creek/Lower East Adams Lake fire. Kamloops Fire and Rescue has sufficient resources within the city to provide effective fire suppression service to our community.

At this time, there is no threat to the City of Kamloops from the fires in our region and residents are encouraged to follow BC Wildfire Services for the latest information on fire activity. Residents should remain vigilant and take time to prepare for wildfires by reviewing information on
Photos at CBC

Where evacuees should go

The CSRD is asking those evacuated to go to the evacuation centre at the Salmon Arm Senior Citizen Centre at 170 5th Ave. SE, or call 250-833-3350 for more information.
The reception centre for the Thompson Nicola Regional District is at the McArthur Island Sport and Event Centre, 1655 Island Pkwy. in Kamloops, which is accessible via Chase Creek Road.

The latest on wildfires:

Two fast-moving British Columbia wildfires have burned down blocks of homes, stores and buildings in multiple communities in the Shuswap region, the B.C. Wildfire Service (BCWS) confirmed Saturday.

Residents of more than 3,500 properties in the area had to evacuate on Friday and Saturday as "extreme fire behaviour" is expected to prompt more evacuation orders in the coming days, according to BCWS and local emergency officials.

"We're still going to have a very active and dynamic day and there's going to be challenges and dangers for our people," said Shuswap Emergency Operations Centre risk management officer John MacLean.

Read article:

Castanet reports

UPDATE: 8:58 p.m.

Firefighting crews are working in Sorrento to slow the progression of the wildfire which took a significant, aggressive run through North Shuswap on Friday.

Two wildfires which had been burning on either side of Adams Lake merged into one on Friday, as the Bush Creek East blaze overran the Lower East Adams Lake fire. BC Wildfire Service said the fire went on a 20 kilometre run to the south in less than 12 hours.

The merged wildfire — which BCWS said will be referred to as the Bush Creek East wildfire — has prompted many evacuation orders and alerts, and has burned structures in Celista and Scotch Creek, although the scope of structure loss has yet to be confirmed by officials.

Forrest Tower, BC Wildfire Service fire information officer, said as of Saturday evening, fire activity isn’t matching the level of Friday night’s aggressive run, but the blaze is still “quite active.”

“We're not having a threat of a 20 kilometre run south like we did last night, but we're still actively being challenged in the Sorrento area, so [that’s] a really heavy focus right now, west of Sorrento — it’s adjacent to that community right now,” Tower said.

According to BCWS, a “task force” of engine trucks and tenders are working in Sorrento to slow fire progression. Crews are working in the Elson Road area to remove fuel and extinguish hot spots around structures.

Tower said another area of focus is along Little Shuswap Lake Road. According to BCWS, structure protection crews are defending against the wildfire and a unit crew is constructing a control line above residences.

Crews are also building a guard above properties up Loakin Bear Road, working to tie into the guard being constructed near Little Shuswap Lake Road.

Tower said visibility has challenged aerial operations.

“We've had less than a half a mile visibility in the area where this fire is burning now — it’s as bad as quarter mile visibility in some areas,” he said, noting Transport Canada flight regulations set a standard for one mile of visibility.

“Even though we are below the standard, we get an exemption if there's public life and safety threatened, which obviously there is. We have had one helicopter trying to do some monitoring and assessments, but we can't have more than one aircraft in the air.”

BCWS said structure protection crews are working in Lee Creek — particularly in the Friedman Road area — as well as Scotch Creek and Celista. Personnel are defending structures on Meadow Creek Road and Evans Road.

Tower said he expects structure protection crews will be working late into the night. Crews are expecting cooler temperatures and higher relative humidity on Saturday night.

Tower said on Friday, a 400-person BCWS camp had to evacuate due to the wildfire’s southward run — an unusual occurrence for the wildfire agency.

“We don't really build them where we think fire is going to get to in that short period of time. It just reflects how extreme fire behaviour developed last night. It was quite something,” he said.

BCWS said heavy equipment and BC Hydro crews have been working to remove damaged power lines along Squilax-Anglemont Road and Holding Road.

Tower said a bridge on Holding Road had its pilings burned, but the ministry of transportation and infrastructure crews have worked to mitigate the damage. He said the Scotch Creek bridge also saw some damage from the fire, but didn’t burn.

“Both of those bridges had some impacts, but have been mitigated and are now passable,” he said, adding they are currently meant for emergency crews access only, as the bridges are in areas under evacuation order.

At its last estimate, the wildfire was estimated to be more than 41,000 hectares in size. However, BCWS said due to poor visibility, an accurate track hasn’t yet been able to be obtained through mapping.

UPDATE: 5:35 p.m.

A seniors care facility in Chase has been evacuated due to the Lower East Adams Lake wildfire.

In a news release, IH said Parkside Community was placed on evacuation alert, and the site was evacuated on Friday.

“Fifty-three individuals in assisted living care were moved to appropriate alternate facilities in Kamloops and the surrounding area during the evening of Aug. 18,” the health authority said.

“Interior Health has been in the process of contacting families directly to update them on the location of their loved one.”

The health authority said families can receive updates on the location of their loved ones by calling 1-833-469-9800 between 8 a.m. and 8 p.m. on weekends, and between 7 a.m. and 7 p.m. on weekdays.

Interior Health has also evacuated a number of assisted living and long term care homes in Central Okanagan due to wildfires.

“This remains a rapidly evolving situation,” IH said.

“We are working closely with the municipality, regional district and the BC Wildfire Service to ensure precautions are underway to protect patients, clients and individuals in long term care.”

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