VIDEO: Help pours in from all over Canada for evacuees, firefighters in B.C.

Everyone from Fort Mac to New Brunswick is pitching in

Help from other provinces and the federal government has begun to pour in for firefighters and thousands of evacuees grappling with more than 200 intense wildfires raging across British Columbia.

About 300 firefighters and support staff from Alberta, Saskatchewan, Ontario and New Brunswick started to arrive Monday to help relieve the pressure on roughly 1,000 B.C. crew members battling the blazes.

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau said he spoke with Premier Christy Clark as well as premier-designate John Horgan on Sunday night and the Canadian Armed Forces have sent aircraft and personnel to support the emergency response.

Residents of Fort McMurray, Alta., who had to flee a massive wildfire last year, have also sprung into action by collecting donations of supplies, driving them to B.C. and offering support and advice on social media.

Christopher Seguin, vice-president of advancement at Thompson Rivers University, said terrified evacuees arrived at a Kamloops reception centre with nothing, having “lost everything and having lost it quickly.”

He said four tonnes of supplies arrived from Fort McMurray including wrapped and sealed water, Gatorade and baby supplies. Volunteers were making sure the Kamloops food bank receives and distributes them.

Seguin expressed his gratitude to the residents of Fort McMurray.

“Thank you. Thank you for giving back and thank you for going to an extraordinary effort to making sure we get exactly what we need at exactly the right time,” he said.

Provincial authorities said Monday that more than 215 fires were burning, with 29 breaking out on Sunday. The fire has scorched about 400 square kilometres of land and more than 14,000 people have been forced to leave their homes.

The entire District of 100 Mile House, a community of roughly 1,800 people, was ordered evacuated Sunday night.

Al Richmond, chairman of the Cariboo Regional District, said the last evacuees from 100 Mile House left around 2 a.m. Monday on a bus to Prince George to receive emergency assistance. Others headed to the Lower Mainland, he said.

Some nearby communities were under evacuation alert and residents were told to prepare to leave at a moment’s notice.

Bob Turner of Emergency Management BC said there were no accidents or injuries as people rushed to flee 100 Mile House. He praised the “nimble and flexible” response and ongoing co-operation between the province, Ottawa and First Nations.

“Generally, we’re still looking at a deteriorating situation,” he added. “We are looking at many weeks to come of a very challenging environment and public safety will remain the overriding priority of government.”

Turner said the agency has been in regular contact with its counterpart in Alberta and has also closely studied reports that were written after the Fort McMurray fire to make sure B.C. is applying lessons that were learned.

Public Safety Minister Ralph Goodale said B.C. requested 3,000 cots and 3,000 blankets from federal stockpiles and they have been delivered to Prince George.

The province also asked for air support from the Canadian Armed Forces, which will be used for emergency evacuations and to move firefighters, emergency officials and equipment around the fire zone.

“It’s a relatively small number at this moment but we are in very early days here,” Goodale said in Regina.

BC Hydro said the fires have caused significant damage to electrical infrastructure in the Interior and have left thousands without power. The utility was actively working Monday to restore electricity.

Nearly 70 public parks were closed and campfires were banned provincewide, apart from Haida Gwaii and the west coast of Vancouver Island.

The largest blaze, covering more than 60 square kilometres, was burning near Ashcroft, an Interior community about 90 kilometres from Kamloops.

Cache Creek Mayor John Ranta has said the fire between Ashcroft and Cache Creek destroyed dozens of buildings, including at least five houses, 30 trailer park homes and two hangars at a regional airport.

Kevin Skrepnek, chief information officer for the BC Wildfire Service, said structures had definitely been lost in multiple fires across the province, but the assessment of how many was still underway.

Gusty winds and hot, dry conditions are expected to continue for days, said Skrepnek. Some lightning was anticipated, bringing rain but also the potential to ignite new fires.

“Unfortunately, in terms of the weather forecast, we’re not really seeing any reprieve in the immediate future,” he said.

By Laura Kane and Elizabeth Leighton in Vancouver, with files from Jennifer Graham in Regina.

The Canadian Press

Note to readers: This is a corrected story. A previous version said firefighters and support staff were also coming from Nova Scotia.


@katslepian

katya.slepian@bpdigital.ca

Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter.

Just Posted

Bears face Hawks, Bruins, Flyers and Bulldogs

Grizzlies lose narrowly to place second out of seven Atom teams

UPDATE: Mount Milligan Mine temporarily suspends operations

There have not been any layoffs at this stage

BC Liberal leader hopeful Wilkinson shares vision with Rupertites

Andrew Wilkinson travelled to Prince Rupert with two supporting northern MLAs, Ross and Rustad

B.C. boy denied $19,000-per-month drug to ease ‘crippling pain’ for 3rd time

Sooke mom Jillian Lanthier says son Landen Alexa has been forgotten about by Premier John Horgan

Senior randomly stabbed in B.C. mall food court

Woman arrested after victim, 71, suffers serious injuries

B.C. Liberal hopefuls begin final leadership push

Five MLAs, one outsider pitch policies to party members

UPDATED: ‘Young, innocent’ teen hit during Vancouver shootout dies

15-year-old Coquitlam boy was in a car driving by the scene

Ontario man charged with selling Canadian’s usernames and passwords

Ontario man ran site that peddled billions of pieces of personal data: RCMP

Video: B.C. documentary features Okanagan ice climbing

First documentary for Penticton filmmaker captures elusive Okanagan ice climbing

David Emerson quits lumber talks as legal action begins

Former federal minister served as B.C. softwood trade point man

Singer of the Cranberries dead at 46

Her publicist says Dolores O’Riordan died suddenly Monday in London. The cause of death wasn’t immediately available.

Toronto police say young girl made up story about hijab cutting

The investigation has been closed after 11-year-old girl claimed her hijab was cut by a scissors-wielding man

Most Read