These #BCSTRONG decals are available for $5 each, with funds raised going to the Ashcroft Legion. PBA Graphics

Wildfire News Briefs: #BCSTRONG

A fundraiser for the Ashcroft Legion, a survey for business owners, Hydro work complete, and more.

#BCSTRONG fundraiser

Brian Lachapelle of Ashcroft has already helped a friend who has a printing business called PBA Graphics do one wildfire fundraiser, which raised $1,700 for the Canadian Red Cross. Now he hopes a second fundraising effort will raise money for the Ashcroft Legion.

Lachapelle’s friend printed up decals in the shape of a bear with the hashtag #BCSTRONG on it. Lachappelle wanted to order some for himself; then, to save on shipping costs for others, put a message on Facebook asking if any other locals wanted decals.

They did, with Lachapelle taking orders for 200 decals, which cost $5 each and come in a variety of colours. Now Lachappelle is arranging a second order, with proceeds benefiting the Legion, which prepared hundreds of meals for fire crews, firefighters, Hydro and Telus personnel, and more.

To view the decal, go to http://bit.ly/2uJ1tS5. To order, contact Lachapelle at brian.lachapelle@hotmail.ca, or send him a message on Facebook.

AIB Emergency Operations Centre

The EOC for members of the Ashcroft Indian Band is still open seven days a week from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. The centre—located beside Fields on Railway Avenue—offers support and services for members of the Band, who have been evacuated since July 7. The Ashcroft Reserve is still under an Evacuation Order.

The Emergency Social Services centre at the River Inn is still operating Monday through Friday from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. The ESS centre offers food clothing, water, toiletries, and more for all area residents who had to evacuate their homes.

Impact of wildfires on business

The Gold Country Communities Society (GCCS) recognizes that the last few weeks have been challenging for everyone, including businesses that have been impacted by the recent wildfires. The society is ready to offer any assistance they can to businesses that experienced, or are experiencing, a closure due to the fires. Email GCCS at www.exploregoldcountry.com or call (250) 457-6606.

The society also wants to let businesses know that the Thompson Okanagan Tourism Association (TOTA) and the Cariboo Chilcotin Coast Tourism Association (CCCTA) have released surveys that will help them understand the scope of the issues that businesses are facing due to the wildfires. The survey only takes a few minutes to complete, and businesses are encouraged to fill out the survey that best fits your demographic area. If you are unsure, contact GCCS. To take the survey, go to http://bit.ly/2tT5R1K.

Wildfire preparedness

The B.C. government has a site where residents of communities at high risk from wildfires and other disasters can get information about developing a household plan, preparing an emergency kit, connecting with your neighbours in the event of a disaster, being fire smart, and more. There are also links to helpful sites such as DriveBC, BC Wildfire, and Emergency Info BC. Go to http://bit.ly/2hcAGIZ for more information.

Air quality

With fires still burning throughout the province, local skies can become filled with smoke very quickly, posing a potential health risk. Interior Health is urging those who may be more sensitive to the effects of smoke from forest fires—such as those with heart or lung conditions—to watch for any change in symptoms that may be due to smoke exposure.

People with heart or lung conditions should take steps to reduce their exposure to smoke; and in smoky conditions it is sensible for everyone to use common sense regarding outdoor physical activity, stay cool and drink plenty of fluids, and pay attention to local air quality reports. To find out the Air Quality Health Index for your region, go to www.bcairquality.ca.

BC Hydro work complete

Over the past three weeks, nearly 200 BC Hydro crews, contractors, and support staff have been working around-the-clock to restore power, and replace or repair equipment damaged by wildfires in the Central and Southern Interior. BC Hydro expected to complete all damage repairs on Friday, July 28.

Power has been restored to over 49,000 customers affected by wildfires since July 7. BC Hydro has also replaced nearly 900 pieces of equipment, including:

371 distribution poles

261 spans of wire

159 cross arms

54 transmission structures

51 transformers

BC Hydro recognizes the challenges for everyone affected by the wildfires, and recently announced a Wildfire Evacuee Assistance Program that provides bill credits to customers who have been evacuated. BC Hydro has proactively identified residential and commercial customers located in evacuation areas and will apply an automatic credit to their account for the electricity consumed during the period they are/were out of their home due to evacuation order.

In addition to providing this credit, BC Hydro will work with those customers who have been evacuated or placed on evacuation alert to defer bill payments, waive late payment charges, and set up a flexible payment plan. Customers are encouraged to call BC Hydro’s customer team at 1-800-224-9376 for more information.

Barkerville’s Theatre Royal does benefit tour

The New Pathways to Gold Society has donated $250 to the Canadian Red Cross for wildfire relief to help support Gold Rush/Spirit Trail communities, as well as $250 to Barkerville’s Theatre Royal, which is doing a benefit tour to raise funds for wildfire relief.

The society notes that communities from Cache Creek to Quesnel and elsewhere along the corridor—which it calls “the heritage heartland of B.C.”—have been hit hard.

For this reason, Theatre Royal has decided to take their production of Mrs. McGinley’s Gold Rush Variety Show on the road. The troupe staged their first benefit production in Quesnel on July 23, and more free benefit performances are planned. You can visit their Facebook page (Theatre Royal, Barkerville) for more details of the “Cariboo Strong” tour.

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