The RCMP is moving more officers into the Central Interior and Okanagan regions to help with door-to-door notification of wildfire evacuation orders as dry, windy conditions continue to spread hundreds of active fires.
Police are working with the Conservation Officer Service and local search and rescue teams in an effort to reach every one of the hundreds of properties affected by new orders, said Dawn Roberts, spokesperson for the B.C. RCMP, in an emergency management update July 22. Extra RCMP were also deployed to the North Okanagan, and to notify people of an expanded evacuation order for the White Rock Lake fire northeast of Merritt.
The B.C. Wildfire Service is currently in action to contain 272 wildfires across the province, down from 277 on Tuesday, with 32 local evacuation orders in place affecting 4,300 properties, said Ian Meier, executive director of the B.C. Wildfire Service. There are 79 evacuation alerts in place, five more in the past 24 hours, affecting 18,000 properties.
The weather forecast has “no relief in sight” for the southern half of B.C., Meier said. “The northern half of the province has received some cooler temperatures and higher precipitation amounts, and that’s helped us reallocate some resources into the south.”
Since April, the service has taken action on 1,173 fires, which have burned an estimated area of 3,428 square km.
With almost 2,200 firefighters, 1,100 contractors and 178 aircraft working, B.C. expects to welcome 112 more firefighters from Quebec on Friday and 100 Mexican firefighters are to arrive Saturday at Abbotsford Airport, Meier said.
Pader Brach, executive director of regional operations for Emergency Management B.C., said there are now 18 reception centres established for fire evacuees, with information available on the EmergencyInfoBC website or by calling 1-800-585-9559.