‘Firefighters very nearly paid with their lives:’ Minister urges residents to follow evacuation orders | iNFOnews | Thompson-Okanagan's News Source

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‘Firefighters very nearly paid with their lives:’ Minister urges residents to follow evacuation orders

Minister of Public Safety Mike Farnworth
Image Credit: FACEBOOK/Government of B.C.
August 06, 2021 - 12:55 PM

The Minister of Public Safety is urging residents in the Okanagan region to follow evacuation alerts and orders after firefighters almost lost their lives saving residents who refused to follow evacuation orders.

The White Rock Lake fire is currently the province’s highest priority, said Mike Farnworth, Minister of Public Safety and Solicitor General, in a live-streamed press conference held Friday afternoon, Aug. 6.

The wildfire is currently 45,000 hectares in size and has destroyed multiple homes and structures in the Monte Lake area yesterday.

READ MORE: Wildfire destroys homes, Monte Lake general store

There are 2,500 properties on evacuation orders due to the wildfire and alerts have been issued for areas in Chase and Kamloops.

“This fire is aggressive and escape routes can be quickly compromised and cut off direction,” Farnworth said. “Staying behind in an evacuated area, not only risks your own life and family it also risks the lives of the first responders fighting the fire.”

The best thing residents can do is follow the instruction of the B.C. Wildfire Service. There are penalties that can be used, up to a $10,000 fine for refusing to obey orders, he said, but noted these fines have never before been issued.

Last night, firefighters put their lives on the line to rescue a small group of people who chose to ignore orders, he said.

“These firefighters very nearly paid with their lives… this is completely unacceptable.”

There has been no indication that there has been a loss of life at this point or that people have been missing due to the White Rock Lake fire, Farnworth said.

This has been one of the most challenging wildfire season’s due to climate change in the province’s history, said Katrine Conroy, Minister of Forests, Lands, Natural Resource Operations and Rural Development, in the press conference.

There are currently 303 wildfires burning in B.C. and 583,000 hectares have burned.

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