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As wildfires merge into an almost 30,000 hectare blaze, wildfire officer says it will be some time before Telegraph Creek residents can return home

August 10, 2018 12:48 AM
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VANCOUVER—The wildfire that destroyed more than two dozen buildings in a northern British Columbia town has merged with another fire and, as of Thursday afternoon, was estimated to be almost 30,000 hectares in size.

It’s “definitely a very real and ongoing threat,” said Kevin Skrepnek, the chief information officer for B.C. Wildfire Service.

The entire community of Telegraph Creek, in Tahltan territory in Northwestern B.C., has been evacuated and “it’s likely going to be some time before it’s safe for them to return,” he said.

While most people initially left Telegraph Creek for Dease Lake, roughly a three-hour drive to the north east, some families with small children, pregnant people and elders have moved on to larger centres like Terrace, Prince George and Whitehorse to escape the heavy smoke, said Fannie Vance, who was co-ordinating communications for Tahltan Band Council Chief Rick McLean.

“It’s really stressful and it’s really wearing on everybody,” said Vance, who added that they’ve had numerous calls from people wanting to help and offer support.

While Vance said the disaster has been “devastating” for the community, she shared some good news that at least 25 horses were brought to safety Thursday afternoon from a ranch outside of Telegraph Creek that was destroyed by the fire.

Heather Rice, an information officer with B.C. Wildfire Service based in Dease Lake, said the people who have lost their homes are sombre, “but they seem to be a resilient bunch and are trying to move forward.”

There were more than 470 wildfires burning in B.C. Thursday, creating a difficult task for the B.C. Wildfire Service.


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