Kamloops is ready if wildfire threatens - InfoNews

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Kamloops is ready if wildfire threatens

May 05, 2016 - 2:30 PM

KAMLOOPS - If Kamloops ever faces a large fire like the one burning at Fort McMurray, residents will have evacuation options.

Kamloops Fire Rescue assistant chief Dan Sutherland says the city has a comprehensive emergency plan that includes a variety of options for different locations and types of disasters. If something big were to happen to Kamloops, he says there are lots of places to send evacuees.

He says evacuees would be sent to the largest community nearby.

“There are a variety of evacuation routes, though it depends on the fire," Sutherland says.

He says the response would be dependant on the size and location of the fire but with many routes out of the city, Kamloops is very fortunate. Evacuation routes and reception centre locations would be determined at the time of a disaster.

However, threats to the whole city are unlikely and neighbourhood evacuations are more common, Sutherland says. In those situations there at least five emergency reception areas for people to take shelter in in the municipality. The sites aren’t public knowledge to avoid confusion if they are ever needed. He says it’s likely only one would be used at a time, so sharing the location of all of them could lead people to the wrong location during a disaster.

He points to the flooding in Westsyde last year as an example of the emergency response plan put into practice. He says the plan worked well and allowed a quick response to events as they unfolded.

Sutherland says Juniper Ridge is unique in Kamloops with a single route in and out, but the road has been widened to help accommodate traffic and potential fuel for a fire along the street has been reduced. He says there is a back road to the Rosehill area that could be used if necessary. Other areas where bottlenecks are a potential problem have a low fire risk, he says. The areas of the city at a higher risk for wild fires include Barnhartvale, Hidden Valley and Juniper Ridge.

Kamloops also as a Community Wildfire Protection Plan to help prevent wildfires in the city. Deputy fire chief Mike Adams says the plan is in the midst of an update, which he expects to be finished by the end of 2016.

Residents are encouraged to make their properties wildfire safe, especially in interface areas. Adams says while the city can work on public property, private land must be dealt with by the owner.

“There’s a big responsibility on private owners to make their property fire smart,” he says.

For more information about protecting your property from wildfire check out the B.C. Wildfire Fire Smart manual.

To contact a reporter for this story, email Brendan Kergin or call 250-819-6089 or email the editor. You can also submit photos, videos or news tips to the newsroom and be entered to win a monthly prize draw.

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