British Columbia

Premier visits B.C. wildfires, promises $100M in relief funding for evacuees

On the third day of major wildfires being fought up and down British Columbia's Interior, provincial and federal politicians began arriving on scene and announcing extra help for both those fighting the fires and those affected by them.

Premier Clark and successor, John Horgan, met with fire evacuees in Kamloops on Sunday

B.C. Premier Christy Clark speaks with a woman from the Ashcroft Indian Band whose home was destroyed in a wildfire. (Justin McElroy/CBC)

B.C. Premier Christy Clark and premier-designate John Horgan arrived in Kamloops, B.C. Sunday to meet with some of the people evacuated from their homes in the province's Interior as a result of wildfires. 

Clark announced a $100 million relief fund that will provide affected "communities and residents the resources needed to rebuild."

The fund will be managed by the Red Cross and provide emergency funds of $600 per individual to evacuees who have lost property. Those seeking relief funds must first register with the Red Cross, officials said.

Roughly 9,500 people have been pushed out of their homes since Friday. Clark spoke to some of those people in Kamloops, acknowledging the long road ahead .

"We're doing our best, we're doing our best," said Clark to one evacuee outside an emergency centre set up at Thompson Rivers University.

"We've got everything out there we possibly can."

Relief funds available

Todd Stone, who is serving as minister responsible for Emergency Management B.C. in the caretaker government said the relief money won't make up for the fact that some people lost their homes, 'but it will certainly help in the immediate term.

Evacuees who wish to apply for relief need not have home insurance, officials said. Applications can be made emergency stations in Kamloops, 100 Mile House, Williams Lake or Prince George — or electronically, with the funds distributed via E-Transfer.

To register, click here

Horgan to become premier next week

While Clark and her government were defeated in a confidence motion two weeks ago, and Lt.-Gov. Judith Guichon has asked NDP leader John Horgan to form government, Clark remains premier until Horgan and his cabinet are sworn in on July 18. 

"There's only one premier at a time," Clark told reporters. 

 We needed this to happen fast, we couldn't wait until the 18th, so I think it's the right thing to do.

"People are so scared, so worried. We need to be there in support," said Clark.

"We have spoken to [the NDP] transition team about it. They're still getting organized, but they were supportive of it."

More firefighters on the way

Clark said 360 firefighters from across Canada would be joining the effort in the coming days, and the federal government has approved the B.C. government's request for help.

"As these fires rage, we are making decisions on the fly every day, and changing those decisions sometimes in terms of priorities every day," said Clark. 

"We just all are praying and hoping that the weather works in favour, that the wind is blowing in the right direction." 

John Horgan, B.C. premier-designate, addresses the media in Kamloops Sunday. (CBC)

Horgan also spent much of Sunday in and around Kamloops meeting with emergency officials.

"We want to make sure everyone understands this is not a partisan affair," Horgan said. 

"This is British Columbians coming together as we often do to help each other in times of distress."