Wildfire evacuees arrive at Sun Peaks: Provincial State of Emergency declared

Smokey skies over the village at Sun Peaks on July 8. Photo SPIN.

This story will be updated as more information becomes available.

Evacuees from around the province began to arrive in Sun Peaks last night (July 7) as crews continued to battle multiple wildfires burning out of control.

Hotels accepting evacuees

Tourism Sun Peaks (TSP) and local hotels are working with the TNRD (Thompson Nicola Regional District) to assist evacuees forced from their homes.

TSP president and CEO Arlene Schieven said around 75 rooms were available the night of July 7. More rooms are expected to become available today and many hotels have reserved blocks of rooms for evacuees.

Those evacuating impacted areas are encouraged to register at the reception centre at McArthur Island sports lounge in Kamloops to receive vouchers for lodging and meals and further direction.

TNRD EOC information officer Debbie Sell said while there are still some options available in Kamloops,  the already high summer occupancy of accommodation forced organizers to look to Sun Peaks for space.

Meal vouchers accepted

On Saturday Mantles restaurant, Morrissey’s Pub and various cafes were accepting meal vouchers. Sell said all restaurants should accept the vouchers and will be reimbursed by the provincial government.

Highways impacted

Travel throughout the Interior has been impacted as highways are closed to allow crews access to fires and to protect travellers. Those with plans to travel or who are evacuating are encouraged to check drivebc.com for information on closures and detours.

Donations and assistance offered

Generous posts on social media have offered lodging, food, transportation and donations for evacuees and their pets.

Livestock has been evacuated to various ranches and barns and to the Barriere fair grounds.

Sell said at this time donations are not being accepted at the Kamloops reception centre.

“At this time, the priority is to register all evacuees and ensure that their basic needs of accommodation and food is taken care of.  We are asking all generous donations be held at this time by donors until we can provide further information on what items are required by evacuees and where donations can be dropped off.”

The Canadian Red Cross has confirmed they have been asked by the province to assist but it is not yet clear what help will be available.

Province battling blazes

Yesterday Transportation Minister Todd Stone announced a provincial state of emergency after over 140  wildfires sparked in one day alone. As of noon on July 8, 171 fires were burning across the province.

Evacuation orders have been given in and around Ashcroft, Cache Creek, 100 Mile House, Little Fort, Dunn Lake, Williams Lake and others.

Air quality advisories have been issued in the Cariboo region and Kamloops as smoke has blown in. Skies at Sun Peaks are hazy with smoke but firesmoke.ca estimates clearing around 5 p.m.