Update: More RCMP members have come to the South Cariboo to bolster roving patrols of evacuated properties and help with general duties during the wildfires.
Staff-Sgt. Svend Nielsen said the officers will come from throughout the province to aid the 100 Mile RCMP as they patrol areas under evacuation order. He would say how many officers have joined the detachment but noted “if we request more it’s anticipated we will be able to get them,” as long as they aren’t needed elsewhere.
“We’re getting ample support from the northeast district RCMP and E-division,” he said.
UPDATE: Roadblocks around the Cariboo evacuation areas will be put in place Saturday as additional security personnel are arriving in the region to assist.
The implementation of roadblocks in areas of evacuation order follows the Cariboo Regional District’s announcement Thursday that they’d hired a private firm to help protect properties in the region.
“It’s taken a bit of time, moving people around B.C. and Canada is tough right now with COVID and closures,” Lloyd Piehl, CRD public information officer said Saturday morning. “We’ve had to coordinate with the RCMP, the Ministry of Transportation and locals as well.”
Piehl said that details about the exact locations of the roadblocks will not be made public, in an effort to help “keep bad people out” of areas that are evacuated.
While there are legitimate reasons for residents to access off-limit areas – which can be granted by way of a permit from the Emergency Operations Centre – Piehl said people without permission should expect to be turned around.
“If you are driving through an order area I can say almost certainly you will not be allowed in,” he said, noting that due to the unpredictable fire activity, highways could be closed at a moment’s notice.
“People need to understand that this is a disaster, it’s not an inconvenience. When there’s an order in place, there’s a really good reason for that.”
The CRD is asking for patience and understanding from residents who may be impacted by these road blocks, and Piehl said anyone not obeying road block protocols can except the RCMP to become involved.
“We’ve had a few instances already where people are not being calm and not listening,” Piehl said. “I appreciate that people are upset. We’re all on edge about this. But human life is paramount and if someone’s going to be a jerk about it, they may get let through but the RCMP is going to be right on them.”
Any residents with questions about access to areas in or near evacuation orders are encouraged to call the EOC information line, at 1-866-759-4977.
The Cariboo Regional District has contracted private security to protect evacuated properties across the region.
Lloyd Piehl, public information officer for the Emergency Operations Centre, said “significant” resources with expertise in road management are being pulled in from across the province to set up roadblocks and checkpoints in multiple locations as well as patrol areas that might be at risk.
Piehl didn’t have specific numbers on the security detail Thursday. The workers will initially focus on Canim Lake and Lone Butte and “potential troublespots,” he said, with plans to expand to other areas under evacuation order, such as Flat Lake-North Green Lake and Big Stick Lake.
“They’re going out as we speak. Most people are our residents and they want their property protected. Canim is the real problem spot – we’re hearing from a lot of people about it,” Piehl said, adding they have also heard from a lot of small business owners in Lone Butte. “Everyone is hyper-aware of what happened in 2017 – people getting broken into. We don’t want a repeat of that.”
100 Mile RCMP Staff-Sgt. Svend Nielsen said police “rovers” will also roam the areas under evacuation to keep an eye out.
“It depends on the day but we have a certain number we will be attempting to put out there to ensure the protection of the area,” he said.
Residents of South Canim Lake were evacuated Wednesday morning after the fire burning out of control on the hillside grew overnight. The order is for 482 properties, spanning 26,395 hectares in the South Canim Lake and Mahood Lake region. An evacuation order for 1,074 properties from Flat Lake to North Green Lake is also in effect, along with some properties in Lone Butte.
Those who are evacuated are asked to go to the Emergency Support Services centre, now at Lake City Secondary in Williams Lake at 640 Carson Dr. People on alert are also asked to pre-register with ESS at www.ess.gov.bc.ca in the event the alert becomes an order.
Piehl also urged those under evacuation orders to close and latch, not lock, their gates and secure their belongings before they leave and “do everything you can to keep people out.”
Those who have had to leave livestock behind and need help with feeding and watering them are asked to call the emergency operations number at 1-866-759-4977.