On Sunday, emergency authorities in one of the British Columbia districts where some of the deadliest wildfires are raging pleaded with visitors not to travel to areas under evacuation orders. Authorities in Sicamous convened a community meeting for residents, around 1,000 of whom are under evacuation orders, with others being advised to be ready to evacuate quickly if their alerts are elevated to orders.
The regional district advised individuals with holiday homes and outside tourists to avoid any locations under an evacuation alert, even though inhabitants can stay unless the notice is elevated to a mandatory evacuation order. The adjacent wildfire is now believed to be 10 square kilometres in size, according to officials, although firefighters have successfully driven the flames back to higher altitudes farther away from residential areas. They did warn, however, that the terrain is quite steep, and that the heavy smoke has made dropping water from the air more challenging.
“The mayor of Sicamous appreciated the significant sacrifice made by evacuated residents, but reminded them that it is contributing to the effort to battle the flames threatening their city.”
Mayor Terry Rysz, who also serves on the regional district board, said he had “lost a lot of sleep over this,” but he couldn’t tell when displaced people will be able to return home.
He stated that he has requested more RCMP and private security agencies to protect abandoned properties, but that resources are insufficient to maintain access controls. Instead, police said they are patrolling evacuated neighborhoods on a regular basis until they can expand their manpower.
On Friday, the district unveiled a new emergency notification system that can send people evacuation notices, orders, and other “essential” information through text message, internet, email, or even home assistant devices. To get notifications, residents must first register.