B.C. wildfire: Exhausted evacuees make their way to Kamloops, more centres open

Thousands of wildfire evacuees arrive in Kamloops
Evacuees from Williams Lake are being put up in Kamloops, joining hundreds of others facing the same uncertainty from neighbouring communities. Catherine Urquhart reports.

As multiple wildfires continue to consume the province, close to 40,000 people have been forced out of their homes.

One of the latest evacuations orders was Williams Lake, where thousands of people were told to leave Saturday night.

Residents were asked to go to Little Fort for further instructions, but some say things were very confusing once they arrived.

“We got there, they just waved us through. Some were waved to Prince George, some to Kamloops… but nobody had any information there and that was a bit disappointing,” said Sage Birchwater, a William Lake evacuee.

“We thought there would be something there.”

WATCH: Evacuees head to Kamloops

Evacuees of B.C. wildfires arrive in Kamloops
Evacuees of B.C. wildfires arrive in Kamloops

Suzana Crocker, another evacuee, said they had to drive all night to get to the Emergency Social Services Centre at the Sandman Centre in Kamloops.

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“I haven’t slept yet, we drove all night. It took us over an hour to get from the Tim Hortons in Williams Lake to 150 Mile House, which is normally about 15-20 minute drive, and it took us well over an hour.”

She said traffic was so backed up that they couldn’t go faster than 10 kilometres an hour.

READ MORE: Full B.C. wildfires update

Once evacuees arrived to the centre, however, long lineups awaited as thousands made their way through registration.

“It is hell, confusion, and people don’t know where they are going next. And that’s the most confusing part for everybody,” said Jim Jameson, an evacuee from 108 Mile Ranch.

He said people in line waiting to get in will likely be there for hours.

“It’s not the lack of volunteers, it’s the volume of people that are coming in. It’s just overwhelming. We doubled the population of the evacuees in just a few hours.”

WATCH: Frustration mounting in Kamloops Evacuation Centre

Frustration mounting in Kamloops Evacuation Centre
Frustration mounting in Kamloops Evacuation Centre

Jameson volunteered to help ease the process.

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“People are confused, there are scared dogs, and so many people crying and in pain, and don’t know where to go or what to do.”

He said he’s now helping by making sure everyone hears the announcements organizers have to make.

Meanwhile, the Red Cross said about 5,100 families have registered for financial aid.

As of Saturday afternoon, Red Cross has registered close to 7,000 households, which they say translates to about 17,000 people.

The Red Cross opened up its donations page for those wanting to donate to those affected by the fires.

The Salvation Army is also taking donations online.

Meanwhile, more centres have open in the Interior and the Lower Mainland to help evacuees.

  • Barriere Reception Centre: 4936 Berierre Town Rd.
  • Chilliwack Reception Centre: Chilliwack Secondary School at 46363 Yale Rd.
  • Kelowna Reception Centre: 1480 Sutherland Ave.
  • Lillooet Reception Centre: Fire Hall at 570 Main St.
  • Merritt Reception Cntre: Merritt Civic Centre at 1950 Mamette Avenue
  • Penticton Reception Centre: 325 Power Rd.
  • Prince George Reception Centre: College of New Caledonia at 3330 22nd Ave.
  • Surrey Reception Centre: Cloverdale Arena at 6090 176th St.
  • Vernon Reception Centre: Vernon Curling Rink at 3400 39 Ave.

– With files from Neetu Garcha

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