WATCH: The slope on a mountainside above Zeballos is considered to be unsafe so following legal advice, the village has decided to extend the evacuation order which has been in place since August.
Zeballos village council has voted to extend the evacuation order affecting 27 properties on a month-to-month basis. On those properties are 15 homes and one motel and 21 people are affected.
“Everything is status quo, nothing is changed so they still get ESS (Emergency Social Services) support if they are outside of the community and at this point, they’re not allowed back in their homes,” said Mike Atchison, Emergency Program Coordinator for Zeballos.
One of the evacuees is Alana Janisse who purchased a home in May but never took possession in the summer because the fire broke out on the hillside right above it. She’s never moved in.
“Housing is a big problem here right now, they are really no options for evacuees to move,” said Janisse. “We were lucky enough to find a place before the fire when we first moved here so we’re OK in that situation but there’s a lot of people that don’t have anywhere to go.”
The forest on the slope above Zeballos looks intact but the ground under the trees has been burnt and now the rain is falling on the ground makes it too unstable.
“The fact that we’ve had that fire, it has created a hazard because of all the underbrush being burned and it’s increased the ability for the trees and debris to come down,” added Atchinson.
The village is following legal advice to keep people out of their homes although some people have voluntarily gone back. They are there at their own risk.
The village is asking the province to conduct regular testing of the slope throughout the winter and then a more in-depth test in the spring to determine if the residents can never go back to their homes.