The Sparks Lake wildfire on June 30, 2021. (BC Wildfire Service photo)

It’s wildfire season: Resources in the event of an emergency

There were 137 active fires in the province as of Friday afternoon.

British Columbia is already experiencing a disastrous wildfire season, after a week of record-breaking temperatures throughout the Interior.

Evacuation orders have been called for people in Kamloops, Lytton and Deka Lake, among others, due to a number of large fires threatening structures and lives, fuelled by hot temperatures and lightning.

As of Friday morning, 119 wildfires were burning in the province, predominantly in the Cariboo, Prince George and Kamloops regions.

The speed at which these fires were sparked and move across the landscape is proof that there may only be minutes to evacuate a home.

Therefore, it’s imperative that residents are prepared to evacuate, even with just moments to spare.

In the event of an emergency, the District of Barriere and Thompson-Nicola Regional District have protocols in place.

The mayor and council have the authority to declare a state of emergency, an evacuation alert and an evacuation order within the District. The TNRD holds this authority for communities not within municipalities, such as Little Fort, Darfield, Louis Creek, Exlou, McLure, Vinsulla, Black Pines, Heffley Creek, and Whitecroft in Electoral Areas ‘O’ and ‘P’. For a map of your TNRD region go to: https://www.tnrd.ca/planning-development/maps-data/

Declaring a state of emergency allows government bodies, such as the TNRD or the District of Barriere, to exercise powers in the Emergency Program Act, including an evacuation order.

In the event an evacuation alert is announced, this is the time to get prepared to go. It’s possible the order to leave will never come, but assume you only have a short amount of time. Ensuring you have a “grab-and-go bag” at the ready is crucial, as well as keeping tabs on notices from local authorities.

In the event an evacuation order is implemented, leave the area immediately. The directions of local emergency officials should be followed, especially as they will provide instructions on how to evacuate the area. When a state of emergency has been enacted by government authorities, the RCMP “may exercise its discretionary powers to enfoce an evacuation order.”

A grab-and-go bag should contain important documents, such as birth certificates and passports, non-perishable foods, water, chargers for phones and other devices, first-aid kit and medications and extra clothing. A list of emergency kit supplies can be found on the Government of BC website.

Evacuation orders are in place until they are rescinded, so it’s important to pack supplies to last a few days to at least one week.

“In such stressful circumstances, the most important thing to remember is to stay calm,” a statement from the province reads.

Evacuees also are encouraged to register online.

Resources for information in the event of a wildfire include BC Wildfire Service app and Twitter page, EmergencyInfoBC Twitter page, DriveBC website and Twitter page for road and travel conditions and the District of Barriere website

Folks are also encouraged to register for emergency alerts through the TNRD’s Voyent Alert! app.

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