British Columbia

Thousands of wildfire evacuees return home, but 'unstable' conditions continue

Thirty six evacuation orders and 40 evacuation alerts that remain in effect across B.C.

154 wildfires continue to burn across the province - including 19 new fires that started on Sunday

A wildfire burns on a mountain in the distance east of Cache Creek behind a trailer park that was almost completely destroyed by wildfire, in Boston Flats, B.C. The evacuation order for Cache Creek lasted 11 days. (Mark Zimmer/CBC)

The current number of wildfire evacuees in B.C. is estimated at 20,300 — down from 45,000 on Friday.

Emergency Management BC's executive director Chris Duffy said the sharp drop is a result of evacuees from Cache Creek, Princeton, 100 Mile House, and Lac La Hache returning to their homes.

Duffy said that number remains "very fluid," as there are currently 36 evacuation orders and 40 evacuation alerts in effect across B.C.

There are currently 154 wildfires burning across the province, including 19 new fires that started on Sunday.

Thunderstorms in forecast

Navi Saini with the B.C. Wildfire Service said that while many fires have stabilized, the forecast continues to be unpredictable.

"[Tuesday] is expected to be hot, and unfortunately we are expecting to see unstable conditions again on Wednesday in the form of thunderstorms," she said.

Saini said that no major soaking rain for is expected for at least 4 to 5 days.

Heavy winds in the Salmon Arm, Revelstoke and Vernon regions on Sunday caused power outages affecting 430 residents in the Loon Lake and Spokane Lake areas, but did not result in significant growth for any existing wildfires. 

Duffy said he is unsure of when Williams Lake residents will be able to return home — but he that he hopes to have good news for the 10,000 affected residents by "early to mid-week."

Advice for those returning home

Duffy advised evacuees returning to their homes to follow directions about which routes are safe to travel, and avoid taking shortcuts.

"Bring a few days of essential supplies when you return home — some groceries, water, be able to take care of yourself for a few days," he said.

"Obviously communities are preparing to have full services there, but in an abundance of caution have some supplies for yourself."

He also said all residents should have a safety plan in place, and be prepared to evacuate within minutes should an evacuation order be re-issued.