BREAKING: Evacuation order issued for village of Clinton, north to Green Lake

Update: Order extended north along Highway 97

The Thompson Nicola Regional District (TNRD) and Cariboo Regional District (CRD) have expanded evacuation orders. This follows the issuing of an evacuation order for the village of Clinton in the afternoon of July 29.

New orders in the past few hours extend north from Clinton along the east side of Highway 97 through 70 Mile, and to the northern border of the Thompson Nicola Regional District along the south side of Green Lake. For more details see the orders here and here, or see the maps below. The TNRD has also extended an evacuation alert to the properties to the west of Highway 97 on the Bonaparte Plateau; see the alert and map here.

The Village of Clinton, which has been on evacuation alert since July 14, has now gone to evacuation order as of late afternoon on Saturday, July 29. As of 8:25 p.m. on July 29, the area under evacuation order includes the Chasm Mill site.

“The wind whipped the fire up and it crossed the Bonaparte River,” Clinton resident Susan Swan tells The Journal. She adds that aircraft are hitting the fire “hard, and often.”

The Evacuation Order also extends to several properties northeast of Clinton: 925, 955, 985 McCall Road, and 780, 793, 799, 802, 807, 808, 815, 820, 823, 825 Valley Road.

The Cariboo Regional District has also ordered an evacuation alert for several properties east of Highway 97 to Little Green Lake, approximately 3 km north following the shoreline of Green Lake. This includes Watch Lake. Sheridan Lake and the southern part of Lone Butte are now on Evacuation Alert.

Highway 97 has been closed at 70 Mile House and south of Clinton at the junction with Loon Lake Road due to the fire. The highway will remain open to support the evacuation of residents. Evacuees from the TNRD have been asked to go to Kamloops, while CRD residents are being asked to go to 100 Mile House.

“Just watching the smoke. Bombers are still attacking it,” says Swan, who has not evacuated the village. “Hoping the wind will drop as the sun goes down.”

On the morning of July 30, Swan reported that the village is now on a Boil Water Advisory, as the water treatment plant cannot keep up with the demand for water, and public works has had to bypass it. “They could not keep up with the amount of water being used for sprinklers, filling water bladders, structural protection units serving up sprinklers, filling tanker trucks, etc.,” she says.

“The scene this morning is much different than last night,” she continues. “The wind dropped some overnight and the beast settled down quite a bit. There is still a breeze, but not the strong winds of last night. Police and fire trucks (thank you Saanich and Nanaimo) patrolled the streets during the night.”

The Elephant Hill fire, which started as a two-hectare blaze south of Ashcroft on the evening of July 6, has now spread to cover 70,000 hectares, forced the evacuation of hundreds of people, and destroyed more than 100 residences and properties.

On the morning of July 30, Swan reported that the village was now on a Boil Water Advisory, as the water treatment plant could not keep up with the demand for water, and public works had to bypass it. “They could not keep up with the amount of water being used for sprinklers, filling water bladders, structural protection units serving up sprinklers, filling tanker trucks, etc.,” she said.

“The scene [on the morning of July 30] is much different than last night,” she continued. “The wind dropped some overnight and the beast settled down quite a bit. There is still a breeze, but not the strong winds of last night. Police and fire trucks (thank you Saanich and Nanaimo) patrolled the streets during the night.”

On the afternoon of July 30, Swan said that the fire camp located at Clinton had been moved north to 100 Mile House. “The necessary services are not here for them. Now that Clinton is on Evacuation Order, supply trucks, etc. are not getting in. When you have 300+ people to feed you need supplies.

“The Incident Commander said that the only way they will get this fire slowed is with backburns. If the wind is from the southeast they would be doing burns this afternoon [July 30]. It was and they did.”

No structures have been lost so far. By Monday, July 31 crews from 15 different fire departments were fighting the fire, with equipment and crew working 24 hours a day. The Army was also onsite with equipment.

Swan reported that after the massive backburning of the day before, July 31 dawned relatively quietly.

“The first treed ridge that we see [from our house] is intact,” she said. “The burn was done on the ridge behind that. I’m sure the view looking up the valley would be different. The fire never came really close to the townsite, so for those who have been wondering if they would have a house to return to, it looks good at this time.”

Interior Health has announced that the Clinton Health and Wellness Centre, which is normally open Monday to Friday from 8:30 a.m. until 4:30 p.m. is closed until further notice. Medical services are available for evacuees at the Emergency Social Services centre at the Sandman Centre in Kamloops

The Evacuation Order forced the cancellation of several events in Clinton, including a Music in the Park concert scheduled for July 29, a farewell dinner for chief administrative officer Tom Dall on July 30, and a community information meeting on July 31.

Highway 97 has been closed at 70 Mile House and south of Clinton at the junction with Loon Lake Road due to the fire. The highway will remain open to support the evacuation of residents. Evacuees from the TNRD have been asked to go to Kamloops, while CRD residents are being asked to go to 100 Mile House.

Clinton Mayor Jim Rivett issued the order at 4 p.m. on July 29, saying, “A rapidly moving wildfire is currently located near the Village of Clinton. Because of the potential danger to life and health, the Village of Clinton has ordered everyone within the Village of Clinton to evacuate, with the exception of the Chasm Mill site [this has changed as of 8:25 p.m. on July 29; the Chasm Mill site is now under Evacuation Order].

“If you are in the described area, you must leave immediately. It is suggested that evacuees shut off all gas and electrical appliances, other than refrigerators and freezers. If you have large animals/livestock in need of shelter, please contact the TNRD Emergency Operation Centre at 1-866-377-7188.

“If you require support services such as food and accommodation please register at the Sandman Centre at 300 Lorne Street, Kamloops, B.C.

“If you do not require these services all evacuees are still required to register with the Red Cross at 1-800-863-6582 or www.redcross.ca.”