The current number of wildfire evacuees in B.C. is estimated at 20,300 — down from 45,000 on Friday.
Emergency Management B.C.’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 the number of evacuees 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 four to five 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 existing wildfires.
Duffy said he is unsure when Williams Lake residents will be able to return home but hopes to have good news for the 10,000 affected residents by “early to mid-week.”
Williams Lake mayor Walt Cobb said he is working to ensure that local grocery stores are stocked and the hospital is staffed when residents return.
“At this stage of the game it’s up to the fire centre, but we’re ready to go, so as soon as we get the clearance, we’ll be doing our thing,” he said.
A resiliency centre has also been established in town to support returning evacuees.
Advice for those returning home
100 Mile House mayor Mitch Campsall said his city saw a “steady stream of people” returning throughout the day.
“I couldn’t have [had] a better day,” he said. “I think I’ve got the best…