Forests Minister Doug Donaldson, Premier John Horgan, Public Safety Minister Mike Farnworth and North Coast MLA Jennifer Rice, parliamentary secretary for emergency preparedness, speak about the wildfire situation at the B.C. legislature July 19. (Tom Fletcher/Black Press)

More military on the way to help

150 Canadian Armed Forces members headed to B.C.

The provincial government announced that 150 additional Canadian Armed Forces members are on their way to help with the B.C. wildfire situation, during a tour and meeting with evacuees in Kamloops Thursday.

“There are a lot of tired people out there who need a break,” Public Safety Minister Mike Farnworth told reporters.

“They’ve (federal government) agreed there will be an additional 150 Canadian Armed Forces who will come and assist in terms of road checks and where they are needed. They will be on the ground shortly.”

Farnworth, who was sworn in Tuesday as part of B.C.’s new NDP government, said he, Forests Minister Doug Donaldson, and Parliamentary Secretary for Emergency Preparedness Jennifer Rice met with just a few of the more than 45,000 people who remain out of their homes due to the fast-moving wildfires.

“It is impressive what has been taking place here in Kamloops. It is unprecedented, what is happening right now in British Columbia,” said Farnworth.

UNDER EVACUATION: A look at the resilience, community of those devestated by B.C. wildfires

“There is more than 3,000 people on the ground fighting fires, almost 200 aircraft and helicopters helping to fight fires, countless volunteers. The community of Kamloops opening up their hearts.

“I feel it is truly remarkable the way the community has come together. It is showing the best of who we are as British Columbians and Canadians.”

On Wednesday, Premier John Horgan extended a province-wide state of emergency for another two weeks.

Evacuees are eligible for $600 from a previously announced $100-million provincial fund, and Horgan said that they will be able to access an additional $600 for every two weeks they are displaced.

Related: Wildfire emergency extended two more weeks

As it stands, Farnworth said about $10 million has been used already. He believes the fund is currently sufficient, but also said the government will spend whatever is necessary.

“This is just the start of the fire season,” he said.

“I hope we get a honking big rainstorm that puts everything out, but we’re just at the beginning and so we’re going to make sure that people are looked after.”

As for what the new NDP government will do to prevent a year like this in the future, Forests Minister Doug Donaldson said it is too early to say.

“Once we get through this summer season, which is unprecedented as we said, we will then take time to learn, reflect and debrief on how the situation occurred, how we responded and how we can be prepared for next time,” said Donaldson.

“The immediate concern is safety right now, but I guarantee we will be looking at the situation after it is under control and making sure we look at mitigation measures and ensure we are doing everything we can to prevent this situation from happening again.”

Donaldson was also asked whether B.C. had done enough to prevent wildfires and, in particular, whether he thought recommendations in a 2003 report after the province’s last major wildfire emergency had been adequately implemented.

“I have only been minister for three days so I am looking into that report. Some of the recommendations were acted on, others need further action, so once we get done with this immediate crisis we can look back on that report,” said Donaldson.

Farnworth noted that he, Donaldson and Rice will meet with federal ministers on the weekend.

The Canadian Armed Forces has already sent a number of personnel, helicopters and fixed-wing aircraft to the province to help in the firefight.

The forecast called for rain in some parts of B.C. on Thursday, but about 140 fires are still burning in the province. More than 3,500 square kilometres of land have been scorched by wildfires this year.

Officials in one of the regions hardest-hit by the wildfires, the Cariboo Regional District, said Wednesday that 41 homes had been lost.

Related: CRD announces 41 homes lost to date in the Cariboo

Another eight homes were confirmed lost in the Central Okanagan region last weekend and almost three dozen trailers were destroyed when fire raced through the Boston Flats trailer park next to Cache Creek, B.C.

Related: Lake Country couple devastated by fire

– with files from The Canadian Press

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

Sold-out in Surrey: the ‘Second Coming of Delamont’s ‘God is a Scottish Drag Queen’

‘The title tends to scare a few people away,’ Victoria-based performer says of his hit show

White Rock neighbours to host second-annual ‘Feast for Friends’

Victoria Terrace residents to raise money for food bank

Task force brainstorms on support for Semiahmoo homeless community

Community service providers gather to discuss options for housing, income safety and more

Two people reportedly sent to hospital after two-vehicle collision in Surrey

Collision happened on the 16500-block of 64 Avenue

South Surrey couple donates $250K to students in honour of late son

Joseph Chung Scholarship Fund helps out 100 post-secondary students

Officials reaching out to those in contact with Canada’s first coronavirus patient

The illness has sickened at least 1,975 people and killed 56 in China

Canada’s basketball community mourns Kobe Bryant after helicopter crash

Bryant was an 18-time NBA all-star who won five championships

‘Devastated’: Fans, celebrities remember Kobe Bryant after his death

Bryant played all of his 20-year career with the NBA with the Los Angeles Lakers

Investigation launched after six dead puppies dumped in Richmond hotel parking lot

RAPS reminds people they can always give up puppies they can’t take care of

Canadian Lunar New Year celebrations dampened by coronavirus worries

But Health Minister Patty Hajdu said today that the risk of infection is low

Man clings to roof of car driving along busy road in Maple Ridge

The man was also seen jumping on the vehicle

B.C. VIEWS: New coronavirus outbreak an important reminder

Walking the line between cautious and alarmist

Kobe Bryant, daughter killed in California helicopter crash

Bryant entered the NBA draft straight out of high school in 1996

Most Read