Last year wildfires tore through central BC resulting in the evacuation of the city of Williams Lake. This year, the fire situation has come back. There are several fires burning in northern BC, many throughout the entirety of BC. In my area, there are 8 “wildfires of note”: 200 hectares to 68,000 hectares. One of these fires has been contained. These fires have resulted in many people being put on evacuation order and many more on evacuation alert.
Where I am the fires are not a direct threat. The one that appeared the closest is the one that has been contained, though it, too, burned away from town. Seeing the smoke plume as it started was unnerving. But, something not so surprising has come from all of this; the communities have once again pulled together—not just to help one another but to help other communities that are helping anyone displaced. There have been call outs for volunteers to help fix fencing and stables to house animals that need to be moved–and these calls have been answered within minutes. It is great to see everyone pull together.
I have also seen some great lists making the rounds on Facebook, advice from those who went through evacuations in the last few years, from the Fort Mac fire to the Williams Lake fire. What should those being evacuated look at taking?
One of the biggest things was gas, it is the first to go, make sure your vehicle is fuelled up. There were suggestions on picking what vehicle to take, what documents you should be taking and which are stored online and are of less importance to pack. There was the suggestion to pack lots of water and food, toilet paper because you just don’t know how long it is going to take you to get where you are going.
You need to pack not only the sentimental things, the important paperwork, certificates etc. As well as survival necessities: food, water, medications, prescription refills. Also, all these things for any dependents, children, pets. If possible, it would be great to pack extra just in case you run into someone who was forced to leave with less notice who may be without.
One suggestion I saw that I think is important to reiterate is that when you leave if you leave sprinklers on it is best to leave them around the yard, to move any flammable material away from the house (planters, wood piles etc), but if you leave the sprinkler on the roof you may end up dealing with water damage.
We have been lucky where we are, there are fires around, but nothing that is an immediate threat. We have been dealing with smoke, which can be a big concern for those with health issues, but the threat of fire is still distant. This is a good time, though, to be ready, to organize, to think about the things that you need to take and the things that you should take. So if that time comes that the fire turns, that the alert comes on, you are already getting prepared. You can take that time to pack the things you have already thought about and be ready to leave should the order come down.
For the most up to date information on fires in BC: http://bcfireinfo.for.gov.bc.ca/hprScripts/WildfireNews/OneFire.asp
For more information on preparing for an emergency: https://www2.gov.bc.ca/gov/content/safety/emergency-preparedness-response-recovery