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)

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

A man sustained burns to his body near this spot around 3:30 a.m. Tuesday, April 13 in Courtenay. The fire was left of the pathway. The Station youth housing facility and city public works yard are to the right of the trail. Photo by Terry Farrell
Emergency personnel respond to man on fire in wooded area of Courtenay

A man was badly burned in the early morning hours Tuesday in… Continue reading

This 2013 Dodge Ram 1500 was stolen from Black Creek Motors at approximately 2 a.m. Sunday, April 11. Photos via blackcreekmotors.com
VIDEO: Thieves steal truck from Black Creek car lot by towing it away

Have you seen a 2013 Dodge Ram 1500 in your neighbourhood in… Continue reading

Teresa Hedley and a copy of her book, “What’s Not Allowed? A Family Journey with Autism.” Photo supplied
Comox Library recognizes Autism Awareness Month with presentation by local author

April is World Autism Awareness Month, an annual opportunity to increase understanding… Continue reading

Comox council will further look at a troublesome traffic area in the Point Holmes area of the town. Photo submitted
Comox council to look at speed calming measures at Point Holmes

“…We are waiting for a problem to happen if we don’t act.”

A 41-person air task force, including 12 members from 407 Long Range Patrol Squadron at 19 Wing Comox, seized more than $3 million CND worth of cocaine as part of Op Caribbe. Photo by Canadian Armed Forces Operations/Facebook
19 Wing Comox crew involved in three-tonne cocaine seizure worth more than $293 million

12 members from 407 Long Range Patrol Squadron involved in Op Caribbe

Restaurant patrons enjoy the weather on a patio in Vancouver, B.C., Monday, April 5, 2021. The province has restricted indoor dining at all restaurants in B.C. due to a spike in COVID-19 numbers. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jonathan Hayward
B.C.’s COVID-19 indoor dining, drinking ban extending into May

Restaurant association says patio rules to be clarified

Cannabis bought in British Columbia (Ashley Wadhwani/Black Press Media)
Is it time to start thinking about greener ways to package cannabis?

Packaging suppliers are still figuring eco-friendly and affordable packaging options that fit the mandates of Cannabis Regulations

Two men were seen removing red dresses alongside the Island Highway in Oyster Bay. (Submitted photo)
Two men filmed removing red dresses from trees on highway near Ladysmith

Activists hung the dresses to raise awareness for Vancouver Island’s Murdered/Missing Women & Girls

Comox Lake is the drinking water source for the CVRD. Photo supplied
Comox Valley Water Treatment Project nears completion

The Comox Valley Water Treatment Project is more than 85 per cent… Continue reading

B.C. Premier John Horgan speaks at the B.C. legislature. (B.C. government)
Tougher COVID-19 restrictions in B.C., including travel, still ‘on the table’: Horgan

John Horgan says travel restrictions will be discussed Wednesday by the provincial cabinet

RCMP on scene yesterday at the altercation at the trailer park. (Submitted photo)
Violent altercation at Port Hardy trailer park sends one to hospital

Police say man confronted another over airsoft shooting, then was attacked with a weapon

Comox council approved a change in fees for using the Comox Municipal Marina, extending the collection of fees from March 1 to Oct. 31 each year. Black Press file photo
Fee changes, increased costs coming to Comox Municipal Marina

The town will be extending the collection of fees from March 1 to Oct. 31

John Albert Buchanan was found guilty of manslaughter in the 2017 death of Richard Sitar. Pictured here, Buchanan walking to the court in Nanaimo last year. (Karl Yu/News Bulletin)
Six years including time served for Nanaimo man in bludgeoning death

John Albert Buchanan sentenced in B.C. Supreme Court in Nanaimo for death of Richard Sitar

Protesters occupied a road leading to Fairy Creek Watershed near Port Renfrew. (Submitted photo)
B.C. First Nation says logging activist interference not welcome at Fairy Creek

Vancouver Island’s Pacheedaht concerned about increasing polarization over forestry activities

Most Read