Effective 3:00 p.m. Friday July 21, most 100 Mile House and South Cariboo residents are allowed to return to their homes. The evacuation orders in the area are downgraded to alerts. This comes after B.C. Wildfire Service reports the Gustafsen fire to be 90 per cent contained.
Williams Lake residents, however, are excluded and remain under evacuation order.
Those North of Watson Lake road, on Tatton station road, 103 Mile west, Gustafsen Lake north forest service road, Exeter McKinley road, Williams Lake and 150 Mile House remain under an evacuation order, as well as the area north of Lac la Hache.
Security will be in place to enforce orders in the remaining evacuated areas, according to a Cariboo Regional District (CRD) news release, and everyone returning to the area is asked to exercise caution to ensure their personal safety.
Highway 97 remains closed south of Kersley so evacuees in Prince George will have to go down Highway 16.
Those who were removed from the community by bus will be able to return home via BC Transit within 48 hours, according to the CRD.
Door-to-door bus service for those with mobility issues will be available on Monday afternoon, and evacuees can sign up at ESS centres or by calling 1-800-585-9559.
The CRD is also reminding residents that they are returning to an area that was profoundly affected by wildfire, and that services such as grocery and healthcare, may be limited for some time. Red Cross will be at the South Cariboo Recreation Centre for anyone returning to the area that requires assistance.
“Anyone choosing to return to the area should ensure that they have a full tank of gas as well as basic necessities including food and prescriptions for up to seven days,” the release says.
Air quality also remains poor due to smoke, and those with respiratory issues, small children and the elderly should consider this before they choose to return to the area.
Donations from others in the province will also be put on hold until further notice, as response efforts are focused on wildfire suppression, animal welfare and readying communities for the return of evacuated residents.
Region still remains on evacuation alert
The CRD is reminding residents that although the order has been lifted, an alert still remains in effect and returning residents will need to remain prepared to be evacuated again at any given time.