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B.C. working to provide more emergency accommodation for wildfire evacuees

Emergency Management Minister urges people to stay with friends, family if possible
Mats and blankets greet wildfire evacuees at the ESS reception centre at Kal Tire Place in Vernon on Aug. 18, 2023. The province says it is “regularly doing pre-planning work with communities to assess accommodations, capacity and need.” (Jennifer Smith - Morning Star)

B.C. is asking people evacuating from wildfires that if they have family and friends to stay with to go there so the province can focus on people who do not have that option.

Emergency Management Minister Bowinn Ma said during a last-minute wildfire update Friday (Aug. 18) that her ministry is “regularly doing pre-planning work with communities to assess accommodations, capacity and need.”

“That being said, we are asking people who are in high-risk areas to reach out to their family and friends and other areas of the province to establish potential opportunities for billeting with their family and friends so that we can focus our emergency support services in particular on the accommodation side on people who do not have that option.”

Ma said there will be many evacuees who do have the option to go to family and friend and “we’re asking them to make those arrangements now.”

The province is working with commercial accommodations, hotels and motels to help evacuees.

Ian Cunnings, senior director of response operations for Emergency Management Ministry, added the province has already set up a temporary evacuation camp as a partnership with the Tk’emlúps te Secwépemc.

READ MORE: B.C., Tk’emlúps te Secwépemc to open temporary camp for wildfire evacuees

It opened this week and is able to accomodate up to 300 people.

Cunnings added there are also lodging sites with the City of Kamloops, Salmon Arm, some locations in the north, as well as the Fraser Valley.

There are evacuation centres set up in Penticton, Vernon, Kelowna and West Kelowna.

READ MORE: Kelowna wildfire evacuees in Vernon praying they have a home to return to

READ MORE: Shelter for evacuated Okanagan pets available

As of 1 p.m., there were more than 4,500 British Columbians on evacuation order and 23,500 on alert.

“If you are placed under an evacuation order, you must leave the area immediately. Please be prepared, have an emergency plan and a grab and go kit ready for you, your family and your pets.”

She added the First Nation or local authority will provide information on evacuation routes and evacuation reception centres where people can access emergency support services.

READ MORE: 4,500 British Columbians on evacuation order


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Lauren Collins

About the Author: Lauren Collins

I'm a provincial reporter for Black Press Media's national team, after my journalism career took me across B.C. since I was 19 years old.
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