B.C. Premier David Eby declares provincial state of emergency: ‘We can and will get through this together’

B.C. Premier David Eby declared a state of emergency during a media briefing on Friday evening.

Eby says 15,000 people in B.C. are on evacuation order, while an additional 20,000 are on evacuation alert — asked to be ready to leave at a moment’s notice.

“In just the last 24 hours, the situation has evolved and deteriorated quite rapidly,” he said.

Eby says B.C.’s state of emergency ensures the province and its emergency responders have access to the necessary tools to respond to the situation.

“These tools are necessary to support communities, to support families, and support those brave frontline workers who are battling the fires in our forests and in our communities.”

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This comes as a destructive wildfire threatens West Kelowna and numerous other communities are on wildfire-related evacuation orders and alerts.

The out-of-control McDougall Creek fire has grown to an estimated 10,500 hectares in size, destroying homes and other structures in the area.

Eby says people across the province have to “stay alert” and be ready in the case of any evacuation-level incident arising nearby. People are asked to stay away from areas affected by wildfires or evacuations unless its for essential travel in order to keep roadways clear for evacuees, first responders, and emergency crews.

“The situation is unpredictable right now, and there are certainly difficult days ahead.”

B.C. Minister of Emergency Management and Climate Readiness Bowinn Ma says the province’s first priority right now is public safety, and explains that the state of emergency could include “legally enforceable orders that restrict travel to specific areas” if travellers decide to go against the province’s request to refrain from heading to the central Interior and southeast regions.

“This decision to declare a provincial state of emergency was not done lightly,” she said.

“[For] those people wondering about what the future is going to look like in the next few days, the government will be there and British Columbians across the province will be there for you,” Eby added.

“We can and we will get through this together.”

Data from the BC Wildfire Service shows 381 active fires burning. B.C. has seen 1,849 total wildfires this season, burning an estimated 1,657,211 hectares of land in the process.

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