July 19, 2017 10:16 am
Updated: July 20, 2017 1:00 am

B.C. wildfire status Wednesday: an emotional homecoming for some evacuees

WATCH: New B.C. Premier John Horgan has extended the state of emergency across B.C. because of wildfires, and made more funds available for evacuees. Neetu Garcha is in Cache Creek, where the news is getting a mixed reaction.

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It was an emotional homecoming for wildfire evacuees from Cache Creek on Tuesday as they were allowed to go home nearly two weeks after being forced to leave.

“We’re home, thank the Lord,” said one resident, holding back tears. “The people in Kamloops, no words to describe how they helped us.”

“I feel so happy to be home.”

WATCH: B.C. government extends state of emergency for wildfires


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There was relief and joy for the nearly 1,000 people who were able to return home but the community remains under an evacuation alert as the nearby wildfire is still active.

Officials have worked hard to restore water, power and sewage services to make the residents’ return as normal as possible.

MAP: Current location of fires burning around B.C.

B.C. remains under a state of emergency as 155 wildfires continue to burn across the province. Fifteen of those fires are threatening communities.

LISTEN:  CKNW reporter Emily Lazatin gets the latest from Fire Information Officer Navi Saini

About 32,000 people are still displaced by the fires but along with Cache Creek, some other residents were also allowed being allowed to return home.

An evacuation order covering 58 properties near Lake Country for the Okanagan Centre fire was lifted Wednesday morning.

Officials say that wildfire, which at its height forced the evacuation of 300 properties and destroyed eight homes, is now 100 per cent contained.

On Tuesday, an evacuation order was lifted for 47 properties near Princeton and Summerland.

Crews are making progress on building fire guards in the area of the Princeton fire and now the blaze is 60 per cent contained. The evacuation order for 300 other properties in the region remains in effect.

The fire burning near Princeton. File photo.

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In addition, the people near Nazko, west of Quesnel, are now on evacuation alert. The Cariboo Regional District issued the alert on Tuesday for McFarland Meadows, an area south of Nazko.

People within a five-kilometre radius are asked to be prepared to leave at a moment’s notice and pack enough food and fuel for at least three days.

An order south of Quesnel was downgraded to an alert on Tuesday however, as some people within the Alexis Creek to West Fraser Road area can now return home.

READ MORE: Updated list of evacuation orders and alerts 

There is still no word on when the people of Williams Lake will be allowed home however.

The fire is still burning about seven kilometres outside the city but weather has helped crews to keep it at bay. Williams Lake is still a ghost town, except for a few emergency personnel and all three highways leaving the city are closed to everyone but evacuees and emergency vehicles.

“There’s no time for baby blues that’s for sure,” said a new mom who was ordered to leave the area last week.

It’s a similar story for 100 Mile House evacuees as they don’t know when they will be able to return home.

This wildfire is burning near the Gustafsen North Forest Service Road, west of 100 Mile House. It is still estimated to be 5,700 hectares in size.

The fire is now 45 per cent contained.

Keeping an eye on the weather

With all the fires burning around B.C., crews are hoping the weather will help them get a hand on some of the big blazes.

Global BC meteorologist Mark Madryga says “It looks like the Cariboo region and the western part of the Thompson region will get a good soaking tomorrow or even tonight and overnight.”

“Some showers will roll into the Williams Lake and 100 Mile House areas but there is a risk of lightning as well tonight.”

Madryga says it will be showery on Thursday and several millimetres of rain will fall. “That’s great news but also a risk of lightning tomorrow and cooler,” he said. “But then it will rebound Friday, warm with sun and cloud and it looks dry for the weekend as well.”

“That’s great news but also a risk of lightning tomorrow and cooler,” he said. “But then it will rebound Friday, warm with sun and cloud and it looks dry for the weekend as well.”

SPCA helping animals left behind

The BC SPCA is hoping to quell some fears for families who were forced to leave animals behind.

A hotline has been set up for evacuees that will allow someone to check on their pets and livestock within the fire zones.

Once the BC SPCA has been notified they will deploy special constables to look after household pets and will connect partner organizations to care for stranded livestock.

Evacuees can call 1-855-622-7722.

Those who remain on evacuation alert are urged to have a pet plan in case they are ordered to evacuate.

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