Forests Minister Doug Donaldson, Premier John Horgan, Public Safety Minister Mike Farnworth and North Coast MLA Jennifer Rice, parliamentary secretary for emergency preparedness, speak about the wildfire situation at the B.C. legislature July 19. (Tom Fletcher/Black Press)

More military on the way to help

150 Canadian Armed Forces members headed to B.C.

The provincial government announced that 150 additional Canadian Armed Forces members are on their way to help with the B.C. wildfire situation, during a tour and meeting with evacuees in Kamloops Thursday.

“There are a lot of tired people out there who need a break,” Public Safety Minister Mike Farnworth told reporters.

“They’ve (federal government) agreed there will be an additional 150 Canadian Armed Forces who will come and assist in terms of road checks and where they are needed. They will be on the ground shortly.”

Farnworth, who was sworn in Tuesday as part of B.C.’s new NDP government, said he, Forests Minister Doug Donaldson, and Parliamentary Secretary for Emergency Preparedness Jennifer Rice met with just a few of the more than 45,000 people who remain out of their homes due to the fast-moving wildfires.

“It is impressive what has been taking place here in Kamloops. It is unprecedented, what is happening right now in British Columbia,” said Farnworth.

UNDER EVACUATION: A look at the resilience, community of those devestated by B.C. wildfires

“There is more than 3,000 people on the ground fighting fires, almost 200 aircraft and helicopters helping to fight fires, countless volunteers. The community of Kamloops opening up their hearts.

“I feel it is truly remarkable the way the community has come together. It is showing the best of who we are as British Columbians and Canadians.”

On Wednesday, Premier John Horgan extended a province-wide state of emergency for another two weeks.

Evacuees are eligible for $600 from a previously announced $100-million provincial fund, and Horgan said that they will be able to access an additional $600 for every two weeks they are displaced.

Related: Wildfire emergency extended two more weeks

As it stands, Farnworth said about $10 million has been used already. He believes the fund is currently sufficient, but also said the government will spend whatever is necessary.

“This is just the start of the fire season,” he said.

“I hope we get a honking big rainstorm that puts everything out, but we’re just at the beginning and so we’re going to make sure that people are looked after.”

As for what the new NDP government will do to prevent a year like this in the future, Forests Minister Doug Donaldson said it is too early to say.

“Once we get through this summer season, which is unprecedented as we said, we will then take time to learn, reflect and debrief on how the situation occurred, how we responded and how we can be prepared for next time,” said Donaldson.

“The immediate concern is safety right now, but I guarantee we will be looking at the situation after it is under control and making sure we look at mitigation measures and ensure we are doing everything we can to prevent this situation from happening again.”

Donaldson was also asked whether B.C. had done enough to prevent wildfires and, in particular, whether he thought recommendations in a 2003 report after the province’s last major wildfire emergency had been adequately implemented.

“I have only been minister for three days so I am looking into that report. Some of the recommendations were acted on, others need further action, so once we get done with this immediate crisis we can look back on that report,” said Donaldson.

Farnworth noted that he, Donaldson and Rice will meet with federal ministers on the weekend.

The Canadian Armed Forces has already sent a number of personnel, helicopters and fixed-wing aircraft to the province to help in the firefight.

The forecast called for rain in some parts of B.C. on Thursday, but about 140 fires are still burning in the province. More than 3,500 square kilometres of land have been scorched by wildfires this year.

Officials in one of the regions hardest-hit by the wildfires, the Cariboo Regional District, said Wednesday that 41 homes had been lost.

Related: CRD announces 41 homes lost to date in the Cariboo

Another eight homes were confirmed lost in the Central Okanagan region last weekend and almost three dozen trailers were destroyed when fire raced through the Boston Flats trailer park next to Cache Creek, B.C.

Related: Lake Country couple devastated by fire

– with files from The Canadian Press

Just Posted

VIDEO: Burned Jeep matches suspect vehicle in two shooting incidents

Police discovered vehicle on fire overnight in Yorkson neighbourhood in Langley

VIDEO: One man suffers serious injuries in crash that closed Fraser Highway in Langley (updated)

One vehicle ends up in ditch after car and SUV collide, air ambulance called in

UPDATED: Gunfire erupts in quiet Langley neighbourhood early this morning

Police have 79A Avenue cordoned off after reports of shots just before 5 a.m.

Upgrades could be coming to popular Penzer Park in Langley City (with video)

Council considers a staff proposal that would move up construction of planned washroom, benches picnic tables and shelter

VIDEO: celebrating Diwali in Langley

Muriel Arnason library marks event for 14th time

VIDEO: Sears liquidation sales continue across B.C.

Sales are expected to continue into the New Year

5 to start your day

A South Surrey shooting, Team B.C. wins the 2017 WHL Cup and more

Justin Timberlake invited back to Super Bowl halftime show

A ‘wardrobe malfunction’ with Janet Jackson caused a national controversy during his last appearance

A scary box office weekend for everyone but Tyler Perry

‘Boo 2! A Madea Halloween’ scared up a healthy $21.7 million in its first weekend in theatres

Even as long-form census data returns, Statcan readies for day without it

Wednesday’s release is expected to show immigrants making up a larger share of the population

WATCH: 10,000 signatures gained to stop ‘no pets’ rental policy

Pets OK BC said about 1,700 animals were surrendered to the BC SPCA last year due to housing issues

Silver Creek reacts after remains found, man arrested

Neighbours of property where remains were found say man arrested was sweet and polite

VIDEO: Oprah Winfrey and a celebrities attend ‘B.C. Miracle Concert’

Fundraiser featured Foster, Steven Tyler, The Tenors, Matteo Bocelli, Laura Bretan, Carly Rae Jepsen

Human remains found at Silver Creek property

RCMP have been searching the property in the 2200 block of Salmon River Road for the past three days

Most Read