It’s not worth the risk to stay behind.
That was the message from Emergency Management BC during a teleconference to update on the provincial wildfire situation.
“With the high threat of wildfires, we really want to let people know they need to be prepared to leave at short notice,” said Pader Brach, Manager, Response and Recovery for Environmental Emergency Program.
That means stay tuned to local emergency websites and news, and create emergency kits that will see you through for several days, including clothing, medication, comfort items for children and pets, and irreplaceable items like photo albums. And importantly, he adds, have at least a half tank of gas in your vehicle.
The next most important step in evacuating is to register yourself at a check-in centre, online (ess.gov.bc.ca) or by telephone, at 1-844-537-7377.
“Register so your loved ones know you’re safe,” he added.
The call included B.C.’s Chief Coroner Lisa Lapointe and Provincial Health Officer Dr. Bonnie Henry.
Lapointe repeated the news that they were able to access Lytton on Saturday, to investigate two deaths that were reported by a survivor of the fire. The two people haven’t been positively identified yet, and there are no other reports of deaths from witnesses.
Access to Lytton remains dangerous, and all agencies are working together to assess the damage, investigate the cause, and stop the fire.
It is one of 174 fires burning across the province as of Sunday afternoon. Of those, 81 were detected in the past 48 hours, and 37 were detected in the past 24 hours.
Cliff Chapman from BC Wildfire Service said that residents need to realize this is the beginning of what they expect to be a very difficult fire season. There have already been 633 wildfires since April 1.
Conditions remain exceptionally dry and there is more lightning activity expected in areas south of Williams Lake, in the Cariboo, Southeast and Kamloops fire regions.
While lightning is expected, not enough rain will come to slow down new fire starts, Chapman added.
Elysia Dempsey of the Canadian Red Cross added that a British Columbia fire fund has been started to raise funds for those impacted by wildfires. If you are trying to reunite with family, call: 1-800-863-6582.
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