Prime Minister Justin Trudeau says he’s meeting today with federal ministers to discuss the government’s response to wildfires that have devastated the village of Lytton and surrounding First Nation communities in British Columbia’s Interior.
Trudeau told a news conference the incident response meeting will also look at what is expected to be a very hot, dry summer with many wildfires.
He says he’s spoken with B.C. Premier John Horgan and Lytton First Nation Deputy Chief John Haugen, and will also speak with Lytton Mayor Jan Polderman.
Trudeau says the federal government stands with the people of Lytton to rebuild.
The search continues for multiple residents, but Public Safety Minister Mike Farnworth hasn’t said how many people from the area are unaccounted for.
Farnworth has said it’s been hard to keep tabs on where everyone ended up, given the urgent nature of Wednesday evening’s evacuation.
It’s unclear whether anyone remains in the village due to a lack of cell service, officials have said.
Details about conditions in the village are scant because it’s not safe to enter the area, the RCMP said, but aerial photos show that numerous buildings and vehicles have been destroyed.
The Mounties have said they would begin searching for missing or injured people as soon as it’s safe to do so.
The roughly 1,000 people who managed to flee to safety when the emergency evacuation order was issued will find very little left when they return, Farnworth said.
Troy Clifford, president of the union representing ambulance workers in B.C., said Lytton had one ambulance and a station, both of which were lost in the fire.
The village has a rotating staff of 25 to 30, and all paramedics out of Lytton are accounted for, he added.
The Lytton Creek wildfire that burned the village was still listed as out of control on Friday morning and was about 64 square kilometres in size.
To the northeast, Kamloops, faced a wildfire threat Thursday night, triggering an evacuation order that was later rescinded. The fire was classified as under control on Friday morning. It was ignited during weather that produced several lightning strikes.
Fire department platoon captain Troy Grant didn’t have an exact number but said about 200 people in the Juniper Ridge neighbourhood were evacuated from the area as the fast-moving fire advanced toward the area.
An update posted to the city’s website Friday said no structures were lost and residents could return to their homes. Crews continued targeting hot spots, it said, and residents were asked to reduce irrigation to conserve water to support their efforts.
The Merry Creek wildfire also prompted the Regional District of Central Kootenay to issue an evacuation order for 31 properties about eight kilometres south of Castlegar. As of Friday morning, that fire was listed as 15 hectares in size and burning out of control. Several other areas in Castlegar were on evacuation alert.
The wildfire service listed 127 active fires burning across the province on Friday morning, with 52 starting in the last two days.
This report by The Canadian Press was first published July 2, 2021.