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2,000 volunteers support BC firefighting effort


August 19, 2003
By Pulp & Paper Canada

VANCOUVER, BC An estimated 2,000 volunteers are now supporting BC’s firefighting efforts by providing help to tho…

VANCOUVER, BC An estimated 2,000 volunteers are now supporting BC’s firefighting efforts by providing help to those who have been evacuated as fire and weather conditions remain extremely volatile across BC Premier Gordon Campbell said today.
At press time on August 19, there were 335 fires burning across BC, a net reduction of approximately 20 in the past 48 hours. However, with dry and windy conditions persisting, new fires continue to start as others are contained and the total area of land that has been affected by fires continues to grow.
“Volunteers from across BC have been tremendous in reaching out to help residents who’ve been forced to leave their homes, and providing support to local officials who are striving to move families quickly and safely,” Campbell said.
“I want to thank all the public servants and volunteers who have given so much to help. The situation remains critical, and will continue that way for many days to come. As firefighters carry on struggling to contain these blazes, it’s important that the public continue to assist as they can, accept direction from local authorities, and take extraordinary care to prevent further fires.”
Evacuation Reception Centres staffed by volunteers have now been established in Kamloops, 100 Mile House, Salmon Arm and Vernon. The reception centres are assisting people with lodging, food and, if needed, clothing. Volunteers are also working at 11 Emergency Operations Centres throughout British Columbia, staffing phone lines and providing administrative support.
Amateur radio operators continue to provide critical communications links, as phone lines are down and cellular coverage intermittent. Search and rescue volunteers have been instrumental in door-to-door notification of residents of evacuation alerts and orders.
Four of the most critical fires in BC are estimated to have covered over 33,000 hectares:
Strawberry Hill 3,370 hectares;
McLure 8,400 hectares;
Cedar Hill 1,500 hectares; and
Chilko Lake 20,000 hectares.
Firefighters are now working on 376 kilometres of fire perimeter lines to battle these four blazes. Of that total, firefighters have established control of approximately 185 kilometres.
A total of 2,000 firefighters are now working across BC. The provincial state of emergency remains in place province-wide to help ensure resources are deployed quickly and efficiently to battle fires, and that evacuation efforts are properly co-ordinated and conducted.
Premier Campbell will personally assess the state of the fires near Kamloops and Vernon tomorrow, and will provide a media briefing afterward in Kamloops with Solicitor General Rich Coleman and Minister of Forests Michael de Jong.

Press release from
Office of the Premier
Ministry of Public Safety and Solicitor General
Ministry of Forests

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