One of the many wildfires raging in the B.C. Interior destroyed all but one home in the Boston Flats mobile home park near Ashcroft.—Image credit: Arnold Lim/Black Press

Fires prompt largest IH medical evacuation ever

Patients being squeeze in at facilities in Prince George, Kamloops and Kelowna.

The ongoing wildfire situation in the B.C. Interior has prompted the largest evacuation ever of medical patients by the health authority, says CEO Chris Mazurkewich.

Speaking to reporters Tuesday from Kamloops, Mazurkewich said more than 400 patients have been moved from health facilities—including residential care homes and medical treatment centres—in Ashcroft, 100 Mile House, Alexis Creek and Williams Lake.

In addition, their health records have had to be transferred in cases where the patients were moved to another health authority’s area.

“It’s all been very complex,” said Mazurkewich.

The majority of the moved patients have been sent to Prince George and Kamloops, with Kelowna General Hospital ready to be a “safety net” if needed, said the IH chief executive officer.

The facilities in Ashcroft, 100 Mile House and Alexis Creek are now closed but the Williams Lake Hospital’s emergency department remains open. However, as a precaution, that hospital’s patients were moved out because of the threat a fire near the city poses.

“I’ve never seen 140 fires break out in a single day and affect so many communities simultaneously,” said Mazurkewich about the escalating wildfire situation on the province.

He said it has been a difficult few days.

During the conference call with reporters, he paid tribute to IH staff—some of whom he said have lot their own homes to advancing wildfires— for the job they are doing accompanying patients to safety in other communities.

“I’m so proud of how everyone has responded,” said Mazurkewich, adding the resiliency they have shown is commendable.

In Kelowna, 21 assisted-living patients from 100 Mile House are currently being put up in a local hotel.

The IH CEO said he met with one woman, who is about to turn 100, and who re-assured him everything will be okay.

“She said we’re going to get through this and it has brought out a real community spirit. She was quite inspiring.”

With space at a premium everywhere, IH officials say they are filling “every nook and cranny” with patients from the affected communities.

In addition to Northern Health taking patients, offers have come in from medical facilities in the Lower Mainland as well.

Meanwhile the heavy smoke that is blanketing the Interior is also causing problems, especially for people with respiratory difficulties.

Medical officials advise those people to stay inside as much as possible, have their medications on hand and if they notice their symptoms increasing, seek medical attention.

The smoke is worst in the Williams Lake area and them Kamloops, said the IH officials on the conference call. While not as bad in Kelowna, it is still noticeable and the entire southern Interior is currently under a smoke warning.

Just Posted

Double deckers planned for Langley bus route

The new buses are expected to serve the 555 route from Carvolth.

Chilliwack boy drops puck at Canucks fight cancer game

Carter Johnston, 11, fighting osteosarcoma and has a growing, prosthetic leg

Theatre stuff from stolen trailer found strewn on Surrey roadside

‘It’s going to take a little while to go through it all and find out what’s ruined and what’s OK’

Air-quality permit OK’d for South Surrey rubber plant

Weir Canada’s request to discharge contaminants from Campbell Heights facility approved

VIDEO: Fire guts Surrey home

A witness says firefighters battled the blaze for over an hour before containing it to the home

VIDEO: Langley Saints best Holy Cross in Junior Varsity football

The LSS team now qualifies to compete in the semifinals

Delta-Richmond Operation Red Nose kicks off with call for volunteers

ORN uses volunteers to provide motorists who have been drinking a free ride home — in their own cars

Federal funding to combat guns, gangs and opioid crisis

Public Safety Minister Ralph Goodale said illicit drugs are often main cause of guns, gangs violence

Riverview youth mental health centre proceeds

Replacement for Maples Treatment Centre first announced in March

Overnight lane closures at Highway 91 and 72nd Avenue

Left turn lanes off of the highway onto 72nd eastbound will be closed to install drainage culverts

Dead boy’s father posts Facebook response after Appeal Court upholds conviction

David, Collet Stephan were found guilty in their son Ezekiel’s 2012 death from bacterial meningitis

Trudeau mania, Scheer enthusiasm in B.C. this week

Prime minister, Conservative leader drop in on Surrey, White Rock

Forecasters promote avalanche safety awareness to kick off season

Avalanche Canada advising backcountry enthusiasts to get proper training and equipment.

B.C. church defaced with disturbing anti-Christian graffiti

Staff at Crossroads United Church reported the vandalism to police late last week

Most Read