Welcoming evacuees

Kelowna is one of the latest cities in B.C. to step up and assist the more than 17,000 people estimated to have been evacuated by wildfires in the central, and southern interior.

Emergency Social Services opened a reception centre in at the Salvation Army on Sutherland Avenue Wednesday, and a local school has opened its doors to evacuees. 

More than 70 people registered at the reception centre on the first day alone and as of Thursday afternoon, more than 100 people registered.

People are escaping fires in Princeton, Ashcroft, Williams Lake and 100 Mile House, among other areas.

Officials say even if you do have a place to stay, it's still important to register. 

Those without a place to go are being put up in hotels, if they are available, and at a local school's gymnasium.

Several dozen cots have been set up to give people a place to sleep.

School District 23 superintendent Kevin Kaardal says the district was contacted by the ESS about housing evacuees and they immediately said yes.

He says the district makes sure custodians are on staff around the clock and the showers are operational.

The rest, he says, is looked after by Emergency Social Services.

A cold front is expected to arrive over the southern portion of the province Saturday, bringing with it heavier winds.

Officials with ESS in Kelowna say they will be ready if, and when, a new wave of evacuees arrives.

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