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WATCH: A province alight, BC continues to burn

As of August 16, there are nearly 270 active wildfires burning province-wide, says BC’s Wildfire Service.

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Thousands of British Columbians are under evacuation orders Monday as wildfires in the westernmost province continue to consume vast amounts of land and property.

Experts said ”exceptional high winds” contributed to dozens of wildfires across B.C., pushing walls of flames close to entire communities, with the Kamloops area being especially hard hit.

While numerous buildings have been torched by fires in the Kelowna area, as of 11 a.m. Monday, the Coquihalla Highway remains closed between Hope and Merritt., and drivers are being cautioned that highways through the Interior could shut down with little notice because of the unpredictable wildfires.

The Coquihalla Highway August 15. —photo courtesy BC Wildfire and Flood Support Group

Meanwhile, hundreds of people took flight from their homes Sunday as evacuation orders were issued.

The lion’s share of the newest evacuation orders are in the Kamloops area where there are more than a dozen wildfires in the Kamloops Fire Centre district, including the Lytton, White Rock Lake, Tremont Creek and Sparks Lake fires.

Officials confirmed Monday the White Rock Lake fire has “significantly damaged” multiple buildings in the bucolic Killiney Beach area, on the periphery of Okanagan Lake, just north of Kelowna.

Source: @marinaleclair Twitter

“Due to evolving conditions, crews have not been able to complete a full assessment of structure damage. More information will be provided to property owners and the media as it becomes available,” according to a statement from Central Okanagan Emergency Operations.

To the northwest, more than 730 properties west of Kamloops remain on evacuation alert due to the sudden growth of the Tremont Creek wildfire, forcing dozens of families in the Cherry Creek area, south of Highway 1, to live under evacuation orders.

Near Vernon, BC, the Okanagan Indian Band ordered residents of about 80 properties to evacuate immediately.

Courtesy BC fire Service

Throughout the area, thick smoke could be seen billowing to the heavens, and left much of the area in a hazy smoke-fog.

The province said more than 6,600 properties were ordered evacuated, while another 16,000 were placed on alert.

Yet another ungovernable wildfire between Peachland and West Kelowna, forced nearly 500 evacuations in the Glenrosa neighbourhood of West Kelowna.

Again, those “exceptional” winds rapidly pushed the Mount Law fire to eight square kilometres — an area twice the size of Stanley Park — and evacuation orders issued affect homes in Peachland.

“The fire quickly grew and became, quite frankly, a nightmare for our community,” West Kelowna Fire Chief Jason Brolund told a reporter Monday.

“Like nothing I’ve ever seen before,” he continued. “The fire moved in almost every direction and really acted like a snake. It surrounded an area of our community and then came down the hill towards the homes that were closest.”

Chilliwack evacuation centre

Elsewhere in the Interior, more communities remain on evacuation alert due to separate fires. The 5,000-strong City of Armstrong warned residents to be prepared to leave at a moment’s notice. Merritt, is under similar orders.

With flames licking the edges of the roadway, Coquihalla Highway, a major link between the Interior and the Lower Mainland, remains closed between Hope and Merritt as fire burns on both sides of the road. 

As of August 16, there are nearly 270 active wildfires burning province-wide, says BC’s Wildfire Service, which noted it expects a break in the weather on later in the day.

So far this year, 1,515 BC wildfires burned a total of 7,667 square kilometres of land, about seven times more than the 10-year average.

The province is urging everyone under an evacuation to get out immediately.

Logan Lake photo. Courtesy Fire Chief Doug Wilson.

Evacuation centres have been set up throughout BC to assist anyone evacuating from a community under threat from a wildfire.

To find the centre closest to you, visit the Emergency Management B.C.  website.

What you should if living under an evacuation alert:
• Locate all family members and designate a meeting area outside the evacuation area, should an evacuation order be called while separated.
• Pack essential items such as government-issued ID, medications, eyeglasses, valuable papers (e.g. insurance, credit, and mortgage information), immediate care needs for dependents and, if time and space permits, keepsakes for quick departure.
• Prepare to move disabled persons, children, and/or neighbours, if assistance is needed.
• Prepare to take pets with you and move livestock to a safe area (if possible).
• Arrange transportation for all your household members.
• Fill the gas tanks of personal vehicles.
• Arrange accommodation for all members of the residence, if possible.
• Wait for an evacuation order to be issued before evacuating.
• If the alert changes to an evacuation order , information will be provided on evacuation routes and reception centres.
—BC Wildfire Service

Wildfires of note:
(Wildfires of note are wildfires which are highly visible or which pose a potential threat to public safety.)
Southeast Fire Centre: • Bill Nye Mountain • Michaud Creek • Octopus Creek • Plumbob Mountain • Trozzo Creek
Cariboo Fire Centre • Big Stick Lake • Churn Creek Protected Area • Flat Lake • Young Lake
Prince George Fire Centre: • Cutoff Creek • Pine River • Tentfire Creek
Coastal Fire Centre • Mowhokam Creek

Kamloops Fire Centre: • Brook Creek • Bunting Road • Crazy Creek Gorge FSR • Garrison Lake • George Road • Hunakwa Lake • July Mountain • Lytton Creek • Mckay Creek • Momich Lake • Mt Law • Nk’Mip Creek • Sparks Lake • Thomas Creek • Three Valley Lake • Tremont Creek • Two Mile Road • White Rock La

For a full list of evacuation orders and alerts, visit Emergency Information B.C.

Mike D’Amour is the British Columbia Bureau Chief for the Western Standard.
mdamour@westernstandardonline.com

Mike D'Amour is Copy Editor of the Western Standard. He worked as an investigative crime reporter at the Calgary & Winnipeg Suns. mdamour@westernstandardonline.com mdamour@westernstandardonline.com

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4 Comments

4 Comments

  1. Left Coast

    August 17, 2021 at 9:54 am

    I suspect many of these multiple fires have a lot more to do with Arson than Gorebull Warming!

    But don’t count on the Media, Police or the Govt to figure it out . . . we have seen Arsonists arrested in California, Oregon, Israel & Greece. Very good chance they are operating in BC today.

  2. Declan Carroll

    August 16, 2021 at 11:37 pm

    They think they can micro manage society and social engineer down to the micro interaction. “We can save society from Covid though micro management with our superduper large brains everybody”. Yet they seem to be having a really hard time doing something that should be simple, which would be managing the forests and keeping their cities from burning to the ground! This is what happens when government doesn’t stay in its lane.

  3. berta baby

    August 16, 2021 at 2:57 pm

    Their masks and god doctors can save them . Perhaps a vaccine against fire damage can be rushed through a start up company and forced into everyone… for their saftey

  4. K

    August 16, 2021 at 2:01 pm

    Commies letting the province burn. This should be an all-hands-on-deck situation, but Castreau and friends are more concerned with a re-election. Disgusting.

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Opposition MPs ask government to ‘show them where the money is coming from’

“Say it’s $10 billion by July. There is no accountability for that.”

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The Liberal’s latest pandemic relief plans may actually be billions of dollars higher than estimated, says Blacklock’s Reporter.

The Department of Finance was in a “continued race to push money out the door,” said one MP.

Bill C-2 proposes benefits including lockdown subsidies for employers and workers estimated at $7.4 billion. The cost covers payments retroactively from October 24 to next May 7, though the bill allows cabinet to extend subsidies to July 2.

“The issue of course that we’re looking at here is accountability,” said Conservative MP Greg McLean (Calgary Centre) at the Commons Tuesday finance committee.

“If there’s an obvious extension, how do we hold the government accountable for that extension when it’s more money going out the door, more on top of the $7 billion you’re already planning to spend?

“Say it’s $10 billion by July. There is no accountability for that.”

Department of Finance managers said they did not know the cost to taxpayers if the program runs to July 2, 2022.

“I can’t answer that at this stage,” said Max Baylor, senior director with the department.

“It would presumably depend on the parameters.”

“I don’t know if it’s because things have been lax during COVID but this is something you need to get right for the country,” said McLean.

Bill C-2 was “just a blank chequebook,” he said.

“I know the government has had a blank chequebook for far too long,” McLean said.

Conservative MP Pierre Poilievre (Carleton, Ont.) questioned the bill’s impact on deficit projections.

“My question relates to the cost,” said Poilievre.

“How is the government paying the $7 billion associated with this proposal?”

No official answered, though 10 departmental witnesses appeared before the finance committee.”

“If they have anyone over there who is concerned about where the money comes from, that person could speak up,” said Poilievre:

  • MP Poilievre: “Clearly they’re getting the money from somewhere. Anyone here from Finance Canada?”
  • Director Baylor: “I can provide a high-level response but I’m afraid I won’t be able to answer directly…”
  • MP Poilievre: “Where is the money coming from?”
  • Director Baylor: “That is within the government’s broader macro-economic framework and I’m not responsible. I can’t speak to that.”
  • MP Poilievre: “You don’t have anyone? It’s just that we’re being asked to vote in favour of another $7 billion in spending. The obvious question is, where is it coming from?”
  • Director Baylor: “I appreciate the question, but I can’t answer that question.”

New Democrat MP Daniel Blaikie (Elmwood-Transcona, Man.) called the testimony “a waste of time” and complained the finance committee could not get straight answers to its questions.

“We’ve been here almost four hours and I haven’t gotten one thing I would classify as an answer to a question,” said Blaikie.

“I’ve asked for a breakdown of the budget. I don’t know if they really don’t have that answer or are on a mission of obfuscation.”

“You have to conclude that our civil servants who ought to be treating the legislature with respect aren’t being upfront about some of these questions, or you have to conclude the people who are running the country never bothered to ask them. Neither one is a very good outcome for Canadians.”

Finance Minister Chrystia Freeland called Bill C-2 the last emergency appropriation for pandemic relief spending. Freeland is to release a fiscal update on deficit figures next Tuesday.

Parliament last May 5 voted to increase the federal debt ceiling to a record $1.831 trillion. It represented a 57% increase from the previous $1,168,000,000,000 limit under the 2017 Borrowing Authority Act.

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Flights from Vancouver to Kamloops priced more than $1,200 over Christmas

BC flight prices have skyrocketed over the Christmas season following flood damage to highways.

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Following substantial flooding in November, which led to savaged highways and infrastructure, many of those planning to visit family out of town for Christmas are forced to fly — and some will be paying exorbitant prices for it.

For example, a WestJet round trip — listed on Expedia — from Vancouver to Kamloops, BC on December 22, with a return flight on December 27 is listed at $1,264 as of Wednesday morning.

The normally 30-minute flight includes a nearly four-hour layover in Calgary.

On TripAdvisor, the same round trip is priced similarly.

Those planning a round trip from Vancouver to Kelowna, BC on the same dates will save a few hundred bucks in comparison to those headed for Kamloops. For example, one round trip with WestJet from Vancouver to Kelowna — December 22-27 — is listed at $741 on Wednesday, although it includes a six-hour layover in Edmonton.

Normal flight times between the locales are 55 minutes.

Prices on WestJet’s website are comparable. On Air Canada’s site, all are currently sold out for the aforementioned dates and locations.

However, those travelling between Vancouver and Kelowna can find cheaper trips on Swoop if they fly out of Abbotsford, BC. On Wednesday morning, a non-stop round trip from Abbotsford to Kelowna, departing on December 22 and returning on December 29, is priced under $300.

Reid Small is a BC-based reporter for the Western Standard
rsmall@westernstandardonline.com
Twitter.com/reidsmall

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Top Ontario doc says separating vaxxed and unvaxxed best way to get COVID under control

Ontario has had more than 626,000 cases of COVID-19 which has left more than 10,000 people dead.

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One of the ways to bring the COVID-19 pandemic under control is to stop “the mixing of unvaccinated and vaccinated,” says Ontario’s chief medical officer.

“Basic means of protecting individuals is stopping the mixing of unvaccinated and vaccinated,” said Dr. Kieran Moore at a Tuesday press conference.

“And if our cases continue through and after the holidays we would make recommendations of government to continue the certification process in play. But we’ll continue to review the data. We do have a very robust testing strategy in Ontario for the winter months as we’ve released previously. We’ve purchased … 11 million rapid antigen test for all students in Ontario.”

Moore was asked whether COVID-19 is “something we’re just going to have to learn to live with” and whether it would ever go away.

“We have a long ways to go with the World Health Organization and other international organizations to try to decrease the number of individuals in which this virus can mutate and/or spread,” he said.

“But I do see a time when we’ll have low, endemic rates and it will turn out to be like influenza or other winter respiratory viruses where there’s a seasonality to it, where it does have an intermittent impact on our health-care system and like influenza, you need an annual vaccine to protect against it.”

Ontario has had more than 626,000 cases of COVID-19 which has left more than 10,000 people dead.

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