TNRD board chair relieved province listened and declared a state of emergency due to wildfires | iNFOnews | Thompson-Okanagan's News Source

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TNRD board chair relieved province listened and declared a state of emergency due to wildfires

FILE PHOTO - A wildfire burns in the mountains north of Lytton, B.C., on Thursday, July 1, 2021.
Image Credit: THE CANADIAN PRESS/Darryl Dyck
July 20, 2021 - 4:18 PM

As Ken Gillis, on his way to his office in Kamloops to sign another evacuation order in the region he represents, said he's relieved the the B.C. government issued a state of emergency in response to wildfires burning across the province.

Gillis, the board chair for the Thompson Nicola Regional District, said he doesn't have specifics from the province yet as to what exactly those additional resources are going to be and how they will distributed to the region to address wildfires. He is looking forward to more accommodations provided for evacuees.

"The evacuations are following one after another, and we do need places to send these people," Gillis said. "We're certainly hoping it will enable the province to obtain more boots on the ground for us, and maybe more military aid, too. It's still speculation now, but it's painfully clear how much help we need."

Minister for Public Safety Mike Farnworth declared a provincial state of emergency on the afternoon of July 20 based on weather conditions that are projected to increase the severity of fire behaviour, particularly in the Central Interior.

The provincial government, at the time, of the announcement registered 40 evacuation orders across the province, which were affecting 5,700 people.

Roughly half of those evacuation orders are located within the Thompson Nicola Regional District.

On July 19, Gillis criticized the provincial government for making a public safety issue a political matter, stating that it was time for Premier John Horgan to "step up to the plate."

"We didn’t get any heads up on it," Gillis said. "At 4 p.m. (July 19), they said no, and at 2 p.m. today, they said it's suddenly a state of emergency."

But he said he won't dwell on the fact that the regional district had not received notice regarding the province's change of heart, he's simply relieved. He expects to see the additional support allocated to both wildfires in the region and to the evacuees throughout the region.

A petition calling on the B.C. government to declare the state of emergency has declared it a victory now that it has been announced.

After collecting over 15,000 signatures to plead the B.C. government make the declaration, the petition page reads: "Time for the province to get the much needed resources and help it needs to fight this disaster."

There are 20 ongoing evacuation orders throughout the regional district and 26 alerts, which can be followed on the Thompson Nicola Regional District here.

— With files from the Canadian Press.

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News from © iNFOnews, 2021

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