WATCH: Premier John Horgan extended the provincial state of emergency for wildfires by an additional two weeks. And the province is boosting payments to those who were forced to evacuate their homes. Thirty-seven thousand people remain out of their homes tonight in B.C.’s interior.And hundreds of thousands of hectares continue burning. As Mary Griffin reports, the announcement comes as the fire danger rises on the island.
Smoke is still rising from the fire near Williams Lake. On the ground, the stumps continue smouldering one week after flames swept down the east face of Green Mountain near Quesnel.
Firefighter Jordan Mack says ever single ember must be eliminated.
“Even the tiniest smoke in the ground can ignite trees,” Mack said. “And given the winds and weather, right? It can push it. This is the majority of our job. Not the most glamorous. But it’s equally important to extinguish all the heat and smoke.”
As the interior continues burning, Premier John Horgan extended the state of emergency for wildfires by two weeks. And the province is boosting money to those who can’t return to their homes.
“Earlier this month, the government created a $100 million fund. Within that fund, households were allotted 600 dollars to meet basic needs, provided through the Red Cross. We’re going to increase that one-time payment to a second-time payment for every 14 days that people are evacuated from their homes,” Horgan said.
The sign outside View Royal’s fire hall changed overnight to extreme. The View Royal Fire Rescue Assistant Fire Chief Rob Marshall knows how quickly things change as he just returned from Williams Lake.
“The night that they evacuated the town, we were out on the front lines,” Marshall said. We actually had to pull a crew back because the fire came a little quicker on us. Then we found out they evacuated 14,000 people behind us.
“We actually had to pull a crew back because the fire came a little quicker on us. Then we found out they evacuated 14,000 people behind us. And it instantly changed because it gives you a sense that something is happening here.”
Marshall and other Island firefighters protected the lumber mill located outside Williams Lake.
“I think we are just seeing the start of our fire season, which is a little scary,” Marshall said.
More than 3,000 firefighters are fighting more than 150 fires in B.C.’s interior.
Island firefighters are expected to return to help with the battle, until it’s over.