Thousands sign petition to improve evacuation routes from Kamloops neighbourhood threatened by wildfire | iNFOnews | Thompson-Okanagan's News Source

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Thousands sign petition to improve evacuation routes from Kamloops neighbourhood threatened by wildfire

The Juniper wildfire started by lightning on July 1, 2021.
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July 05, 2021 - 2:30 PM

An online petition to improve evacuation routes from a Kamloops subdivision is gather thousands of signatures as July 1 evacuations remain fresh in the minds of community members.

The Juniper Ridge neighbourhood was evacuated when a lightning sparked wildfire spread to 15 hectares near the subdivision on the night of July 1.

"While attempting to comply with an evacuation order, many residents were unable to exit their driveways, let alone the subdivision, due to extreme traffic congestion on all roads leading to Highland Drive," the petition reads. "Hundreds of residents waited for 40 minutes or longer simply to exit their driveways and reach the round-about at Highland Drive and Qu’Appelle Boulevard."

According to the petition, it took two hours to completely exit the subdivision in some cases.

The East Kamloops wildfire put homes in both Juniper Ridge and Valleyview at risk, but it was contained and no structures were damaged on July 1. Crews are continuing to fully extinguish the fire.

Kamloops MLAs Todd Stone, a Juniper Ridge resident, and Peter Milobar have also sent a letter to Kamloops mayor and council addressing the bottlenecking and minimal routes to exit the area.

The letter urges city council to issue a detailed evacuation plan for Juniper Ridge and to unlock gates at emergency egress locations, which limited options for escaping residents to Highland Road.

The B.C. Liberal MLAs also urged the city of Kamloops to facilitate more than one land of traffic to be allowed down Highland Road when evacuations are in place.

Lastly, they have urged the city to implement more effective communications channels in order to alert residents of emergency situations.

The Thompson Nicola Regional District uses the Voyent Alert smartphone application to alert residents of emergencies like floods and fires on an opt-in basis.

The evacuation order issues to Juniper Ridge residents was issued on July 1, then again around 1 a.m., July 2, after it was rescinded.

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