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B.C.: Health officials prepare field hospitals near care homes as wildfires burn

Friday, July 30th 2021, 7:21 am - Interior Health takes precautions as more than 242 wildfires burn across the province

Health officials in the Okanagan announced Thursday they are preparing to erect two temporary field hospitals adjacent to care homes as wildfires rage in the area.

The Interior Health Authority said it is making the move "out of an abundance of caution," adding that the supplies and equipment for what it calls "deployable alternate care sites" can be quickly set up with the support of St. John Ambulance. Each site can support 40 patients, it added.

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The announcement comes as 80 wildfires burn in the Kamloops Fire Centre, which includes the southern Okanagan.

One of the fires, the more than 10-square-kilometre Two-Mile Fire near Sicamous, B.C., has escalated over the past 24 hours, according to authorities, and has become increasingly difficult to fight because of extreme smoke.

osoyoos-wildfire-photo-beachgoers Fires burn on a hill in Osoyoos, B.C. on July 22, 2021. (Maggie MacPherson/CBC)


One of the field hospitals Interior Health is setting up is at the Summerland Seniors Village, while another will be ready to deploy if needed to Pleasant Valley Manor in Armstrong, B.C.

"Proactive evacuations will continue for health-care clients, residents and patients impacted by evacuation alerts," Interior Health said Thursday in a statement. It also said it is sending portable electric generators to "key health care facilities to ensure the continuity of care in the event power is interrupted due to wildfire activity."

sicamous-fire-july-20-2021 A wildfire burns near Sicamous, B.C., on July 20. (B.C. Wildfire Service/Twitter)

The B.C. Wildfire Service says more than 242 wildfires are burning across the province, the largest number of them in the Kamloops region. In the past day, 12 new fires have started, roughly two-thirds of them believed to have been sparked by humans, the agency said.

A total of 4,560 square kilometres in B.C. have burned so far this year — a 31 per cent increase above the past decade's wildfire season average.

Meanwhile, there are now 62 evacuation orders, affecting more than 3,000 properties.

No new evacuation orders were issued Thursday, and an evacuation order impacting some of the properties at risk from the Nk'Mip Creek wildfire, east of Osoyoos, B.C., was downgraded to an alert. That means residents should remain ready to leave on short notice, although large parts of the area still remain under evacuation orders.

Anyone placed under an evacuation order should leave the area immediately.

Evacuation centres have been set up throughout the province to assist anyone evacuating from a community under threat from a wildfire. To find the centre closest to you, visit the Emergency Management B.C. website.

Evacuees are encouraged to register with Emergency Support Services online, whether or not they access services at an evacuation centre.

This article was originally published by CBC News and written by David P. Ball

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