An emergency support services reception centre has opened at the Salvation Army Kelowna Community Church to help accommodate wildfire evacuees from across the province.
Catherine Williams, emergency support services director for the Regional District of Central Okanagan, said that she got the call on Wednesday night (June 30) to prepare for a centre in Kelowna, noting the ones in Kamloops and Merritt are almost at full capacity.
“There are so many fires burning. It’s the July long weekend, too,” said Williams. “Hotels are at a premium. It’s hard to place people, and there’s a lot of people moving out of the area of fires. There seem to be new ones cropping up.”
In Lytton, MP Brad Vis has confirmed that a wildfire has destroyed 90 per cent of the village. All homes in the village were ordered evacuated on Wednesday night. Also, 163 homes north of Kamloops have been ordered evacuated due to the Sparks Lake wildfire, and another 298 are on evacuation alert.
“Anyone that’s displaced and needs help. If they’re coming this way, we’ll be here to help them,” said Williams.
The ESS reception centre in Kelowna, located at 1480 Sutherland Avenue, will help provide hotel accommodations, food, restaurants, groceries, and clothing to evacuees.
Williams said no evacuees have registered at the Kelowna reception centre since it opened on Thursday afternoon. Still, staff will remain prepared at the location “until we’re not needed.”
“We just want to be ready for whatever’s coming our way,” she said.
The reception centre isn’t accepting donations, as they don’t have the capacity to store donated items. However, Williams said that anyone wishing to donate should make contributions to the Salvation Army instead.
— With files from Michael Rodriguez and Ashley Wadhwani