Wildfire Update – May 27

PRFN Wildfire Update from Chief Valerie Askoty – May 27, 2024

Hello Members,

This morning, the Evacuation Orders for Fort Nelson, Fort Nelson First Nation, Highway 77 North, Highway 97 South, including 292 Subdivision have been downgraded to an Evacuation Alert.

Please note, though it has been deemed safe to re-enter the community, there are still active fires in the area. The Evacuation Alert will remain in effect until such time as the risk has been eliminated. 

BC Wildfires are actively monitoring the fires in our area, and currently there are no ongoing threats in our area.

For our members making the move back home, please see the resources below.

Traffic will be heavy returning to Fort Nelson, so please be patient and only pass when it is safe to do so. There will be RCMP presence on the route to ensure traffic laws are being obeyed. We want everyone home safe!

Once you are back in community, please attend the Resiliency Centre at the NRRM Recreation Centre where the Red Cross will be on site with cleaning kits for residents, and where other service providers will be available in the coming days. 

Please remember it is going to take some time for the community to rebuild, so please be patient with each other and help out where you can.

Take care and stay safe.

Chief Valerie Askoty


RESOURCES

Reminders for Returning Home:

  • Top up with fuel, and bring a few days of food and essential supplies as quantities may be limited until full supply has been re-established.
  • The community will take some time to fully rebound as many business owners are returning with the general public. Please be patient as operational hours and services may be limited this coming week.
  • Buses providing group transportation returning to Fort Nelson are scheduled for Tuesday, May 28th. Those who have already registered will be contacted directly to confirm the time and location of pick-up. If you have not already registered, please contact 250-775-0933 to do so. Later or alternate transportation options are not likely to be arranged.
  • Based on their need, returning residents may be eligible for a return fuel voucher for an amount relative to their location prior to their departure.  Vouchers will be available within the Evacuation Reception Centers during business hours each open tomorrow at 10:00 a.m., with the exception of Chetwynd’s which will open at 8:30 a.m.

When you arrive home, a Resiliency Center will be set up in the Recreation Centre Community Hall to provide one-stop support and resources around re-entry and recovery:

  • Red Cross cleaning kits,
  • Service Canada for EI support & document replacement,
  • Literacy Society for literacy and computer literacy support,
  • Information & general resources
  • Insurance representatives
  • Counseling, emotional & spiritual support
  • Culturally appropriate support

Visit us Monday, May 27th, from 12:00 – 6:00 p.m., for cleaning kits provided by the Red Cross, available at no charge to residents, and 12:00 – 6:00 p.m. Tuesday, May 28 – Thursday, May 30 for the full range of resources and supports available.  Additionally, a Community Town Hall meeting will be held (date TBD) for residents to share their experiences and provide feedback on things that were done well or could be done differently in future.

Water consumption/quality – with recent demands being on fire suppression activities:

  • Reduced Watering:  Please note that there shall be no lawn, garden, trees or shrub watering outside of the hours of 7:00 am to 11:00 am on prescribed watering days including washing driveways, sidewalks, parking lots or exterior building surfaces.
  • Water Quality: while safe to drink, water that has been standing in service lines and those within your home may be cloudy or stale and have an unpleasant taste at the outset.  Run household taps until just clear.

Air Quality:

  • Due to the ongoing activity of wildfires in the area, smoke persists, which can affect health and visibility. Protect yourself and loved ones by staying indoors, staying hydrated, and keeping windows closed.

Utilities:

Utilities are restored and safe to use, but if you have issues with power or gas, contact BC Hydro or FORTIS directly. Residents who experienced an extended outage will be contacted directly by the appropriate service provider for any further details or instructions.

Take the time to read notices from utility or other service providers that may have been posted on your door and follow the instructions described.

Dealing with Spoiled Food:

  • Document spoiled food items from your appliances with lists or photos to provide to your insurance provider for potential coverage due to wildfire-induced power outages.
  • Empty out the appliance’s contents if you can.
  • Before cleaning and restocking appliances, contact your insurance provider to confirm your coverage for replacement.
  • Dispose of food refuse at an NRRM-provided bin – either your curbside bin, or in a large collection bin within your neighborhood.
  • Curbside pickups will be increased the week of May 27 – 31. Residents west of Airport Drive will have pickups on Tuesday and Thursday, and Residents east of Airport Drive will have pickups on Wednesday and Friday.
  • If you need to dispose of your appliance, secure the doors with duct tape, cut the cord, and deliver it to the landfill or an NRRM-provided bin at a nearby location.
  • Access to the landfill and vermicompost will be open May 27 – June 2, regular operating hours and no tipping fees will apply.

Traveling Restrictions:

  • When the Evacuation Order is lifted, there will be no outstanding travel restrictions for Highway 97, and access permits will not be required.
  • Avoid visiting Mile 301–312 of the Alaska Highway with ongoing recovery efforts, as traffic will be controlled through that area.
  • Highway 77 remains closed at this time. Please check DriveBC for updates.
  • The BC Wildfire Service will maintain area restrictions around the Patry and Nogah Creek wildfires, access to the areas will be permitted by them when it is safe to do so, as determined by BCWS.  Through-traffic will not require a permit when transportation corridors reopen in those areas.



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