Ten families from Clinton forced from their homes over the weekend due to the Elephant Hill fire, are the latest to check in at Vernon’s evacuee centre.
The City’s emergency social services coordinator Luana Kaleikini says about one thousand fire victims have registered at the centre since it opened two weeks ago.
She says so far, none have stayed at the group lodging sites at the curling rink and Civic Arena.
“All of our households are billeting, so staying with family or friends. We have not had to use the group lodging. It is a last resort,”Kaleikini said at a media tour of the facility.
Photo: Acting Vernon fire chief David Lind and Emergency social services coordinator Luana Kaleikini at the group lodging site at the Vernon Curling Club
Kaleikini says the province — which is covering the costs — has asked Vernon to keep the group lodging sites open until further notice.
Kaleikini says they have 167 volunteers available, but are still taking names of more, with more evacuations are expected this summer.
“The conditions are so volatile that we are still taking and processing walk-in volunteers. We’re looking to assess what the volunteers’ availability is for August.”
Kaleikini says the Salvation Army has been inundated with donations for the fire victims.
“They are managing donations at their site, and they are actually full. They have run out of room and are asking for no more donations at this time. They have hampers for evacuees, with food, clothing and toiletries, that sort of thing.”
Residents are getting credit for being careful to prevent wildfires in the Vernon area.
The city’s acting fire chief, David Lind, says there’s been no major incidents so far, despite the high to extreme fire conditions.
“We’ve been quite fortunate i the Vernon area. I think that’s largely due to the responsible behaviour of the residents, and people have been quick to report small incidents.”says Lind.
Lind says they’ve attended to some incidents like BBQ or dust in the air that people thought were fires.
“And that’s okay. It’s good to be reactive and to get on top of those things very quickly.”
Lind is reminding residents to be prepared with a “To Go Bag” in case of an emergency, with any medications, your wallet, and supplies to support yourself for 72 hours.
“It’s just a really good practice,” says Lind.