Safe access to Heffley Creek

Residents of Kamloops' Heffley Creek area can learn about plans to reinstate a washed-out section of Old Highway 5A.

Storm events in early May caused significant damage to the Heffley Creek Channel and road.

Engineering consultants have evaluated options that will be laid out at a meeting tonight, 5-7 p.m. at the Heffley Creek Hall. City staff will be available to provide information and answer questions on the selected design for the area and the timeline for its construction.

“We understand the inconvenience this road closure has caused for the community,” said Rachel Driedger, the city’s capital projects supervisor. “The residents have been very patient while we’ve been working on a solution, and now we would like to share this plan with them.”

The consultants are currently assessing the remaining road area to determine a safe pedestrian path to use until construction is complete, according to a press release.

If one is deemed feasible, the city expects to open it for public use within the next month. Until then, residents are asked to continue to avoid the area. 

In May, a state of local emergency was declared in the Heffley Creek area after an imminent stream bank erosion threatened a home.


Lotto winner to help fires

A Kamloops man has decided to help wildfire evacuees after winning the Lotto Max Extra.

Jason Labby decided after winning on July 7 that he wanted to help those affected by the wildfires across the province.

“I believe in helping people,” said Labby. “I’m donating some of my winnings to help people affected by the wildfires across B.C.”

His winning tickets was purchased at the Esso Bear Den in Chase.

Labby added that he is also going to buy a home for himself and “relax more.”

Smoke delays flights

Smoke from numerous wildfires burning across the Interior prompted the Kamloops airport to cancel several flights Tuesday because of poor visibility.

Air quality around Kamloops is forecast to reach a rating of eight out of 10-plus, meaning smoke-laden air poses a high health risk for infants, the elderly and those with lung or heart conditions.

The smoke is also smudging the skies of Metro Vancouver, resulting an air quality advisory for the area and for the Fraser Valley due to high levels of fine particulates.

In Quesnel and the North Okanagan, the air quality carries a high health risk rating, with a rating of seven.

Williams Lake in the central Cariboo, where thousands were forced from their homes on the weekend, is listed at a very high health risk, with a ranking of 20, although conditions are expected to improve through the day.

An Environment Canada special air quality statement remains up for all areas but the northern and coastal regions of B.C., with a warning that concentrations of smoke particles will vary widely as winds, fire behaviour and temperatures change.


Kamloops 'stretched thin'

As more British Columbians are chased from their homes by wind-fanned wildfires, officials say they are concerned that their place of refuge in Kamloops may be stretched too thin.

Seven evacuation orders were issued Saturday afternoon and evening, including for thousands in the City of Williams Lake and the surrounding area.

Cariboo Regional District Chairman Al Richmond says that while the flames haven't reached Williams Lake, he and the mayor decided to issue the evacuation order because the fire threatened to cut exit routes.

Initially, they had planned that Williams Lake residents would go north to Prince George, but Richmond says flames crossed that highway, and the majority of evacuees were diverted south towards Kamloops.

But he says Kamloops is "stretched," and because evacuees are also coming from Loon Lake, it will only get worse.

He says they're concerned about overloading the centre and he's urging all evacuees to call the Red Cross, which is helping co-ordinate the efforts.

Log jam of evacuees

Kamloops is overrun with evacuees escaping wildfires in the Cariboo region.

Thousands of people under an evacuation order left Williams Lake Saturday, adding to the numbers already in the city.

“Evacuees currently staying in Kamloops are asked to hold off on their Emergency Social Services renewal unless it expires today,” said a press release issued by the Thompson-Nicola Regional District on Sunday. “A few people have already visited the Sandman Centre with the hopes of renewing early. With the influx of evacuees from Williams Lake, volunteers at the emergency reception centre (at the Sandman Centre) are working as quickly as possible, but will not be able to provide early renewal for any current evacuees.”

Evacuees have also been reminded they only need to register with Emergency Social Services if they require food and lodging.

However, all evacuees have been urged to register with the Red Cross and that registration does not require a renewal. The number for Red Cross is 1-800-863-6582.

If evacuees are staying with friends and family, they do not have to stand in line to register with the Emergency Social Services.

Tens of thousands of people are under evacuation orders in B.C.

Fire info meeting tonight

The Thompson-Nicola Regional District is holding an information meeting tonight on wildfires burning in the region.

Representatives from BC Wildfire Management, the RCMP, Ministry of Transportation and Infrastructure, TNRD, Interior Health, Emergency Management BC and the Blackpool Fire Department will be on hand.

They are expected to provide information, and answer questions from evacuees and the public.

The meeting will begin at 6 p.m. in the multi-purpose room at Clearwater Secondary School.

B&E suspects caught

A man and a woman are in custody after being found in possession of property stolen from residences on the south shore of Kamloops

Cpl. Jodi Shelkie said RCMP received reports of break and enters at two separate residences on Monday and Wednesday.

“In both situations, a suspicious vehicle was seen in the area by witnesses,” said Shelkie. “This morning police officers located this vehicle on Dunbar Drive in Aberdeen. A 32 year old man and 27 year old female were found inside of the vehicle along with items allegedly stolen during the break and enters from earlier this week.”

The male and female, both from Kamloops and previously known to police, will be facing charges of possession of property obtained by crime.

“Two things greatly assisted in the arrest of these individuals. First, citizens in the area of the break and enters noticed a suspicious vehicle and were able to give a good description of it. Second, the victims supplied a detailed list and description of the items that were stolen from their homes,” said Shelkie. “When the officers came upon the vehicle, they could immediately tell that the items inside matched the description of the stolen items.”

The names of the suspects has not been released.

Evacuees wait for aid

Wildfire evacuees say they are relying on the help of strangers as they wait for promised short-term funding from the province. 

Breanne Lawrence fled fires near 108 Mile Ranch with her son and was evacuated to Kamloops.

"I only had about a minute to grab what I thought I could, what was essential," Lawrence told CTV.

But financial aid has proven difficult to access. With all-day lineups at the Kamloops evacuation centre, locals have opened their doors to those in need.

"Not everybody has credit cards or is in a money situation that they can afford food or clothing or gas," Lawrence said.

The province is providing $100 million in funding for evacuees, with a promised $600 immediate payment for those registered with the Canadian Red Cross.

The Red Cross says money transfers started going out late Tuesday and it is bringing in more personnel to speed up the process.

"As we go through the process of validating that information ... it could take a little while, but please be patient with us," said operations manager Melissa Fouler.

– with files from CTV Vancouver


Resiliency centre opening

The Thompson Nicola Regional District (TNRD) will open a resiliency centre starting Thursday at 12:00 p.m.

The resiliency centre will provide resources for evacuees including  a variety of non-governmental agencies.

Service Canada will also be located at the centre. 

Starting Friday, July 14, the centre will be open seven days a week, from 10:00 a.m. to 4:00 p.m. 

The resiliency centre will be located at the City of Kamloops’ Soccer Central Lounge and Meeting Room at 1550 Island Parkway, on McArthur Island.

Evacuees are encouraged to check the centre’s hours online.

Caught on fire on Coq

A portion of the Coquihalla Highway between Merritt and Kamloops is closed after a semi caught on fire Wednesday afternoon.

DriveBC reports the incident took place about 4:30 p.m., causing a section of the highway near Waloper to be closed two kilometres south of Exit 290.

An image shared on Twitter shows flames surrounding the front of a tractor-trailer and a large cloud of smoke billowing from it. 

CTV Vancouver reports the truck was hauling BC Hydro equipment and that Hydro confirms the driver got out safely.

There is no detour available, and an estimated time of reopening is not yet known.

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