As of Thursday, Aug. 5, the White Rock Lake wildfire was estimated to be 32,500 hectares in size. On Aug. 4, in response to the fire, an evacuation order was issued for Falkland in Electoral Area D of the Columbia Shuswap Regional District. (BC Wildfire Service photo)

As of Thursday, Aug. 5, the White Rock Lake wildfire was estimated to be 32,500 hectares in size. On Aug. 4, in response to the fire, an evacuation order was issued for Falkland in Electoral Area D of the Columbia Shuswap Regional District. (BC Wildfire Service photo)

Efforts underway to find lodging for Falkland residents under evacuation order

Columbia Shuswap Regional District says about 1,200 people from 580 properties affected by order

Efforts are underway to find accommodations for people affected by an evacuation order in Falkland.

The order was issued at 8:30 p.m. on Wednesday, Aug. 4, and applied to approximately 580 properties and 1,200 people within Electoral Area D of the Columbia Shuswap Regional District (CSRD).

Approximately 1,000 properties east of the evacuation order area remain under an evacuation alert. The order and alert are in response to the White Rock Lake wildfire which, as of Thursday, Aug. 5, was estimated to be 32,500 hectares.

A reception centre was set up at the Prestige Harbourfront Resort in Salmon Arm, where evacuees could find information and support, including assistance with accommodations.

CSRD spokesperson Tracy Hughes said the regional district was attempting to secure as many hotel rooms and other commercial accommodations as possible.

“That’s a massive effort that started last night and is continuing today,” said Hughes, urging evacuees to check in at the reception centre where individual needs could be assessed to determine what will work best.

“If they have an RV, then we can try to find a place for it,” said Hughes. “It’s not a one size fits all solution…

“We are asking people, if you can stay with family or friends, please do; It would really help us out because there’s a huge pressure on commercial lodging at this point.”

For more information around emergency accommodation, Hughes advised calling 250-833-3350.

Hughes said the regional district and Shuswap Emergency Program personnel are also in communication with the Shuswap SPCA regarding accommodation of pets (cats and dogs), as well, there is discussion about using the Salmon Arm Fair fairgrounds for evacuated livestock.

Read more: White Rock Lake wildfire activity expected to ramp up with winds in forecast

Read more: Evacuees from Falkland asked to register at Salmon Arm’s Prestige hotel

Read more: UPDATE: Entire community of Falkland ordered evacuated due to White Rock Lake wildfire

“We’re currently working on the fairground and assessing what the best use of that facility is going to be,” said Hughes. “Once we have a plan in place, we’ll be putting that out on social media and to the community. Right now, their best source is the IPE grounds in Armstrong.”

Hughes acknowledged that when the Aug. 4 evacuation order was issued, there was some confusion among users of the Alertable app, the CSRD’s recently launched emergency alert system for mobile users. At the top of the Alertable notification for the order is an explanation of what area the order applies to. However, you had to expand the text to see it all. Right below the text was a map with all of Electoral Area D in red. At the bottom of the notification was a CSRD map showing what parts of Area D were under evacuation order, and what parts were under evacuation alert.

Hughes said the alert went out to all of the electoral area because it was felt all residents needed to be kept informed.

“Even if they weren’t in the specific order area, we wanted them to stay off the roads, we wanted them to do some things even if they weren’t on order,” said Hughes, who urged Alertable users to read through all the information provided via notifications.

When the evacuation order was issued, local RCMP received help from 30 Shuswap Search and Rescue volunteers, who went door to door to inform residents of the order.

“Another key piece is that once people leave that order area, they are not going to be let back in,” said Hughes. “So they need to take everything that they want to take with them, and don’t assume you’re going to be going back and forth through the evacuation order area.”

Hughes said the regional district is attempting to acquire private security that will work with the RCMP to watch after properties affected by the evacuation order.

Echoing recent comments by BC Wildfire Service director of fire centre operations Rob Schweitzer, Hughes noted the White Rock Lake wildfire is currently the province’s number one priority, and a lot of resources are going towards it.

“There’s heavy equipment, air equipment, specialty teams, structural protection is going in and they’re strategically planning best places to set up sprinkler lines, guard lines,” said Hughes. “It’s very mobilized and they’re fighting this very aggressively….”

For those affected by the evacuation order, the CSRD has provided the following information:

  • Residents can assist the registration process by self-registering with Emergency Support Services online through this link: https://ess.gov.bc.ca/ You can also search this on Google using the term BC Evacuation Registration and Assistance. When registering, please indicate your community as Falkland.
  • The preferred evacuation route is by using Salmon River Road to access Salmon Arm. If you are travelling in large vehicles or with livestock, please travel using Highway 97 to Highway 97A, then head north towards Salmon Arm.
  • If you need assistance with transportation from the area, call 250-833-3350.
  • Gather your family. Take pets in pet kennels or on a leash.
  • Take critical items (medicine, purse, wallet, keys and grab-and-go bag) only if they are immediately available.
  • Do not use more vehicles than needed. If time permits, check with neighbours and assist those with special needs.
  • Close and lock all windows and doors. Shut off gas and electrical appliances, other than refrigerators and freezers.
  • Regularly monitor the CSRD website, www.csrd.bc.ca, the Shuswap Emergency Program’s (SEP) webpage at www.shuswapemergency.ca, the Shuswap Emergency on Facebook and Twitter, the CSRD’s Facebook, Twitter platforms or local news sources for up-to-date and accurate information. Or sign up for Alertable, our new emergency mass notification system, at https://www.csrd.bc.ca/alertable
  • For update on wildfire information, see the BC Wildfire Service at: www.bcwildfire.ca


lachlan@saobserver.net
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B.C. Wildfires 2021