City readies to take in wildfire evacuees

The city is ready to welcome another major influx of evacuees from the region’s wildfires, Mayor Lyn Hall said Friday, as what has started out as a trickle could soon turn into a flood.
With that possibility in mind, an emergency reception centre has been set up at CN Centre, at the south-east entrance of the building. Events planned for the CN Centre area this weekend – namely the Cariboo Rocks The North music festival – will not be affected, Hall stressed.
“Our message to evacuees is no different than it was last year at this time,” Hall said. “You’re most welcome to Prince George. If you are evacuated to a particular community, come on to Prince George.”
The city had previously established the reception centre at the Civic Centre but moved the operation in order to welcome a larger number of evacuees and accommodate group lodging.
Eight evacuees had registered at the Civic Centre.
On Friday, three evacuation alerts were issued in the Cariboo Regional District. Of them, the biggest was for residents living west of the Fraser River in Quesnel as well as for the Narcosli Creek area to the south due to the Narcosli Creek fire which stood at 1,200 hectares as of the early afternoon.
Nearly 4,000 properties are affected.
The two others were for 396 properties in the Hawkins Lake and Eagle Creek area due to the Lang Lake fire just north of Canim Lake, which was at 200 hectares and for 181 properties from Mayfield Lake north to Buckley Drive and west to the Fraser River, including the community of Springhouse, due to a 45-hectare fire northwest of Mayfield Lake.
And on Thursday, an evacuation order was issued for the Houseman Lake area with evacuees reporting to 100 Mile House.
To the west, the Bulkley-Nechako Regional District issued evacuation orders for an area just north of Fraser Lake where the Shovel Lake wildfire is burning, for areas in the vicinities of the Torkelsen Lake and the Tweedsmuir complex fires. As well the order for the area affected by the Nadina Lake fire south of Houston was expanded.
And orders related to the Verdun, Gilmore Lake, Purvis Lake and Island Lake wildfires, issued Thursday, remained in place.
"Our city may soon see again a large number of evacuees fleeing wildfires that are threatening homes and I know that everyone in Prince George, as they did in 2017, will show them the incredible hospitality that you exhibited to evacuees also year," Hall said.
Volunteers are not needed at this time, "but stay tuned," he added.
Asked if city managers will be paid overtime to handle the influx, Hall said: "We haven't addressed that. Today was about being prepared and that's what we're focussing in on today."
As for registering evacuees, Hall said the hope is that the lessons learned from last year will be put into effect and lead to a more streamlined process.
"That is one of the key points for us," he said.
A web page has been established by the City to provide information for evacuees and residents at www.princegeorge.ca/wildfireevacuation. The City is also providing an opportunity to subscribe for updates via email. This is available at news.princegeorge.ca/subscribe and selecting the category “Wildfire Evacuation Information.”
Last summer, more than 10,000 evacuees from wildfires to the south registered in Prince George.

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