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

Hometown Hockey explored in a great weekend in West Kelowna

Special guests, music, games, and free pizza! Hometown Hockey countinues on Sunday.

Central Okanagan home builders recognized for great work

CHBA-CO recognizes excellence at annual awards gala

Vernon alleged serial arsonist faces sentencing today

The sentencing hearing for William Munton begins at 10 a.m. in Vernon Supreme Court

Lend your voice: apply to join Kelowna council committees

Kelowna council is seeking members for three advisory committees

The Okanagan Death Café returns for another season

The event allows participants to explore the topic of death, discuss wills and listen to each other

Find me my furever home: Mittens and Boots

Meet Mittens and Boots who are available for adoption at the Kelowna BC SPCA

World economy forecast to slow in 2019 amid trade tensions

For Canada, the IMF’s estimate for growth in 2019 was 1.9 per cent, down from expected global growth of 3.5 per cent

2-for-1: Total lunar eclipse comes with supermoon bonus

On Sunday night, the moon, Earth and sun lined up to create the eclipse, which was visible throughout North and South America

‘Gotti’ leads Razzie nominations, Trump up for worst actor

The nominations were announced on Monday, Jan. 21 with some movies earning up to six nominations

Patriots make 3rd straight Super Bowl, beat Chiefs 37-31 in OT

New England will meet L.A. Rams in NFL title game

Pettersson returns to lead Canucks to 3-2 win over Red Wings

Vancouver’s super rookie has 2 points in first game back after knee injury

Crash closes Coquihalla southbound lane south of Merritt

Accident occurred approximately 26 kilometres south of Merritt

Skaters stranded in Saint John, NB, amid storm on last day of championships

More than half of the flights out of the city’s airport were cancelled due to the weather

Call for tighter bail rules after Saudi sex-crime suspect vanishes

Mohammed Zuraibi Alzoabi was facing charges related to alleged sexual assault, criminal harassment, assault and forcible confinement of a woman

Most Read