Ashcroft-Cache Creek evacuees pepper agencies with questions

Evacuees listen as emergency agencies answer questions at TRU Grand Hall.

There was no shortage of questions from about 70 wildfire evacuees from the Ashcroft-Cache Creek area tonight (July 8, 2017) at an information meeting.

Representatives from various agencies including the Thompson Nicola Regional District, RCMP, Ministry of Transportation and Infrastructure, TRU and Red Cross gave the evacuees updates on the wildfire situation and fielded questions ranging from how many homes have been destroyed to what to do when prescription medications run out.

One of the most frequent questions was when the highway will be re-opened to Cache Creek. Highway 1 is closed in both directions 10 km. west of Cache Creek to five km. east.

Graham Schimpf of MOTI said it’s impossible to know yet when it will be re-opened, because of unpredictable fire behavior, but an update will be posted on the DriveBC website around noon on Sunday.

“There is no access into Cache Creek right now.”

BC Wildfire Services rep Cliff Chapman said its unknown how many mobile homes were destroyed at the Boston Flats mobile home park near Cache Creek, though rumours say it may be all of them.

The 4,200 Ashcroft Reserve fire that resulted in the evacuation didn’t grow as much Saturday as had been feared, he said.

“Today we were very fortunate,” Chapman said, referring to wind conditions that were less severe than on Friday when all hell broke loose.

In answer to another question, Cache Creek Mayor John Ranta, who chaired the meeting in the TRU Grand Hall, said Belcorp has reported that the Cache Creek landfill is unscathed. “There’s absolutely no damage to the landfill whatsoever.”

Security of empty homes was also a concern, but Ranta said Cache Creek “is like a ghost town. If somebody moves they’re on it,” he said of the RCMP presence.

Sgt. Justin Thiessen said that despite the need for increased police in fire areas, all police services are still being provided throughout the province.

TRU is working with the TNRD to provide lodging in the university’s gymnasium for those who can’t find a place anywhere else. There’s room for 65 more people and the Grand Hall can hold another 150 if necessary.

The evacuation reception centre has been operating out of the McArthur Island Sports and Events Centre but a one-stop situation will be established Sunday at TRU. TNRD public information officer Debbie Sell said the EOC is getting a lot of calls from people trying to locate family members, and the Red Cross is setting up a system for that.

She said arrangements have also been made for pets, and livestock is being accommodated at the B.C. Cattlemen’s Association yards in Dallas.

In other wildfire news, Wells Gray Provincial Park will be closed as of 8 a.m. Sunday until further notice. The park is accessible by only one road, which would make an evacuation difficult if it’s needed, said the Wildfire Service.

Anyone already in the park will have to leave, even though there are no fires in the immediate area.

The City of Kamloops closed its nature parks as of Saturday. Included are Kenna Cartwright Park, High Canada Park, Rosehill Park, Peterson Creek Park, Valleyview Nature Park, Capilano Park, Highland Park and Dallas-Barnhartvale Park.

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