July 18, 2014 - 2:21 PM
WEST KELOWNA – Premier Christy Clark was in West Kelowna Friday addressing questions about the fire budget and touring the temporary evacuation centre set up at Mt. Boucherie Senior Secondary.
“They are incredibly organized,” she said. “We have emergency services on the ground, we have doubled the resources that are in the air and we are really working hard to do everything we can to… make sure people have the support they need.”
Clark says although the entire firefighting budget for the year has already been spent, the province has a contingency fund available. She estimates the cost of fighting all fires across the province to be approximately $5 million per day. Many of those, she says, are avoidable.
“Half of all the fires in this province are people-caused,” she says, calling the back country of B.C. the greatest place in the world. “But please, please be really careful when you’re out there.”
Clark says the threat of a power outage in West Kelowna has diminished, but the situation is still unpredictable. With 60,000 residents dependent on the grid, the consequences of a shutdown could be catastrophic.
"West Kelowna is still the largest community that is still reliant on one little transformer," she told Global Okanagan. "We've got to do better than that. I told B.C. Hydro today I want them to come up with a reasonable plan, one that we can afford, that would alleviate this in the future. Everybody's worried enough... they should not have this added worry that we're all going to run out of power."
In the meantime, Clark says firefighters and residents will continue to get help for as long as it’s necessary.
“The budget’s already been spent but we’re going to keep spending the money that we need to,” she says. “We are not going to stop spending money because it’s expensive.”
Clark, who leases a home in her riding of West Kelowna, says although her place is not currently threatened, she understands what residents are going through.
“I do have a home here but it’s not immediately at stake,” she said. “It’s terrible to have to go through tragedy like this but it’s incredible to see the stories of people coming together.”
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News from © InfoTel News Ltd, 2014