The Beacher Ranch at the corner of Highway 20 and Farwell Canyon last night. Raylene and Bryan Poffenroth’s home has been refuge for Riske Creek neighbours who have been fighting to save their homes since July 7. Crews were pulled off the fires again yesterday leaving Riske Creek residents hoping the fire won’t jump the guards they have made. (Bailey Fuller photo)

Wildfires displace more than 37,000 evacuees

B.C. has spent over $80 million on wildfires already

There are more than 37,000 wildfire evacuees in B.C. as of late Sunday morning, according to transportation minister Todd Stone.

“Today we have just about 2,900 people on the fires,” said forestry minister John Rustad. The province has 24 helicopters up in the air but strong winds are affecting air operations.

“Unfortunately yesterday we did lose a helicopter in a crash.”

The accident, which occurred in the Chilcotin area, has left the pilot in stable condition, said chief fire information officer Kevin Skrepnek.

The EC-130 helicopter was operated by JB Air Inc. The Transportation Safety Board has been contacted but will not be investigating further.

Since April 1, there have been 641 fires burning 131,000 hectares across B.C., said Skrepnek. There were 162 fires burning on Saturday and 16 of those are interface fires with evacuation orders or alerts associated with them.

Skrepnek added that the weather is forecasted to remain hot, dry and windy.

“It would take an unseasonably significant rain event to really change the situation now,” he said.

The most rapidly growing fires were around Williams Lake and the Ashcroft Reserve fires. The Ashcroft Reserve fire is currently the biggest wildfire in B.C. at 42,300 hectares.

RELATED: Clinton still on evacuation alert as crews work to contain fire

The fire is largely growing along the highway, said Skrepnek, especially between Clinton and Cache Creek.

“Violent fire behaviour” has caused the BC Wildfire Service to pull back some of their crews near Williams Lake. The White Lake fire, which has jumped to the eastern side of the Fraser River, is the biggest threat to the city itself.

VIDEO: Thousands evacuate Williams Lake by school bus

Emergency Management BC deputy minister Robert Turner said that 80 per cent of those who have registered for aid have received it, for a total of 5471 payments.

Turner said that Kamloops authorities are doing their best to handle the influx of refugees.

“We have been working to open up other emergency reception centres,” said Stone. “No evacuee will be turned away.”

WATCH: Todd Stone speaks about the wildfire situation in Kamloops:

RELATED: Wildfire evacuees asked not to renew ESS early

Stone did ask evacuees who may have family elsewhere, especially in the Lower Mainland, to see if they can stay with them instead. Most evacuees are not staying in group lodging, Stone added, but are staying with friends and family or have found accommodations with local families.

According to Turner, this isn’t B.C.’s worst evacuation ever.

“The 2003 fire season we saw 50,000 evacuees in B.C.,” said Turner. “The difference this time is the geographic scope and that it’s early in the fire season.”

There are evacuation centres set up in Kamloops, Prince George, Surrey and Chilliwack.

VIDEO: Chilliwack prepares for Williams Lake fire evacuees

“They are set up as a contingency,” said Turner, noting that any future waves of evacuees could cause more Lower Mainland evacuees to be set up.”

Just Posted

Young Salmon Arm athletes gear up for the 2018 BC Winter Games

20 competitors across five events vying for the podium in Kamloops

Documentary features Salmon Arm cinema

Out of the Interior shines a spotlight on the Salmar Classic

ALR review may not be open-minded

Past agriculture minister Norm Letnick skeptical of NDP approach

Technology Meet Up showcases full range of tech-industry careers in the Shuswap

Salmon Arm Economic Development Society spotlights high-tech frontrunners

BC BUDGET: New spaces a step to universal child care

Fees reduced for licensed daycare operators

VIDEO: Top 10 B.C. budget highlights

The NDP is focusing on childcare, affordable housing and speeding up the elimination of MSP premiums

How to keep local news visible in your Facebook feed

Facebook has changed the news feed to emphasize personal connections. You might see less news.

Video: B.C. firefighters featured in quirky video

Oliver Fire Department posts video about their B.C. volunteer firefighter spring training seminar

OLYMPIC ROUNDUP: Two more medals push Canada into second place

A gold in ski cross and a bronze in bobsleigh as men’s hockey advances to the semis

Trudeau reiterates denial of Sikh separatists in cabinet, condemns extremism

“We will always stand against violent extremism, but we understand that diversity of views is one of the great strengths of Canada.”

Canada wins gold in men’s ski cross

Leman earns redemption with ski cross gold; Homan out early

Trump says more must be done to protect children

In a tweet Tuesday night, Trump indicated he wants to strengthen the background check system, but offered no specifics.

Evangelist Billy Graham has died at 99

Graham died Wednesday morning at his home in Montreat, North Carolina.

Most Read