B.C. wildfires 2018: frequently asked questions

Everything you need to know about the B.C. wildfires during the wildfire season of 2018.

Everything you need to know about the B.C. wildfires during the 2018 wildfire season

A wildfire burning on a logging road southwest of Fort St. James, B.C., on Aug. 15, 2018. (Darryl Dyck/Canadian Press)

With thousands in crisis and facing uncertainty, wildfires in B.C. have caused the province to declare a state of emergency.

This list of frequently asked questions contains resources on everything from evacuations, emergency accommodation, road closures, and next steps if you've been ordered to evacuate your home.

This has been be updated to reflect current information as of August 2018.

How do I find out if I'm under evacuation order or alert?

Alerts and orders are issued by local governments, which also distribute maps of the areas affected. A compilation can all be found on the Emergency Info B.C. website.

Regional districts also provide phone numbers you can call to ask whether you are affected by an alert or order. For the current wildfires of note, the contact information is as follows:

The Okanagan-Similkameen also has an interactive map that works similar to Google Maps to show evacuation zones.

Where can I find out about road closures?

DriveBC updates its website as frequently as possible, sometimes as often as every five minutes, listing road closures in the province. Updated information is also on its Twitter account: @DriveBC.

Those unable to access a computer can call for information toll free at 1-800-550-4997.

What do I do once evacuated?

All provincial government information for evacuees is compiledhere.

People who require immediate assistance, such as a place to sleep or grocery vouchers, should register in person at a designated emergency reception centre. You can find a list of reception centres here.

Emergency Social Services (ESS) programs are set up at these locations for evacuees who don't have access to other sources of support.

What should I pack if I am ordered to evacuate?

All information on what to do if you are ordered to evacuate can be found on the Province of B.C. website.

The province recommends preparing an emergency kit with water, personal medications, cellphone charger and other essential supplies.

  • Wildfire preparedness

How can I find out where all the fires are located?

The B.C. Wildfire Service has a list of active wildfires here. They can also be seen on this interactive map.

The map shows roughly where a fire is and its approximate size. Information is updated throughout the day, but evacuation orders and alerts are still issued through local governments. 

A list of wildfires of note — those that are highly visible or threatening structures — can also be found at the wildfire service's website.

Can evacuees have hydro fees waived?  

Yes. BC Hydro is offering relief for customers forced out of their homes by wildfire. The utility is proactively identifying people affected by evacuation orders and crediting them for electricity used while they are away.

Those who have lost their home will have their last BC Hydro bill waived.

What about my pets and livestock?

The B.C. SPCA has compiled a Q&A for animal owners affected by wildfire in B.C. — from where to take your animals and how you can help those left behind.

How do I get my mail?

An ongoing list of service disruptions can be found by visiting the Canada Post website.

Evacuees can sign up for a free temporary mail-forwarding service through Canada Post by visiting any one of their offices or online at canadapost.ca/mailforwarding.

Searches for critical items already in the mail, including medicine and passports, can be initiated by calling 1-800-267-1177.

Where can I donate money to help?

The Canadian Red Cross has launched an appeal for donations for those impacted by this year's wildfires.

Canadians who'd like to donate can visit redcross.ca, phone 1-800-418-1111 or contact their local Canadian Red Cross office.

The following organizations are also accepting donations:

The B.C. SPCA is also accepting donations to support animals affected by wildfire.

If I am returning home after an evacuation, how do I deal with any damage?

The Guide to Wildfire Recovery from the Red Cross covers all essential steps to returning home and starting the cleaning-up process. 

People returning home may find red-coloured fire retardant covering some or all of their property. This substance prevents the spread of fire and is similar in composition to fertilizer. It can be scrubbed off with soap and water.

Fridges and freezers may be kept depending on the extent of damage. This guide outlines how to make insurance claims on spoiled food and the safe disposal of an appliance. 

How do I check the air quality?

Environment Canada issues air quality advisories as part of its public weather alerts

Additionally, B.C.'s Ministry of Environment provides air quality health Index (AQHI) forecasts and live readings from air monitoring stations on an interactive map.

Read more from CBC British Columbia