Williams Lake Mayor Walt Cobb (Black Press)

Williams Lake evacuation went well, mayor says

Highway 97 north reopening helped clear the city

The evacuation of Williams lake Saturday night went smoothly, despite hours-long traffic backups as people headed south, Mayor Walt Cobb says.

“I’m really pleased with the amount of patience and the good thoughts people had,” Cobb told Black Press in an interview Sunday morning. “Apparently we got everybody to where they needed to go, safe and sound with no incidents along the way.

“The big lineups were gone by midnight last night. So it went extremely well.”

The evacuation order was triggered Saturday, not by a direct threat to the community but fire closing in on Highway 97 north to Prince George, where the original evacuation plan was to send residents. Cobb said the northern route was reopened Saturday night.

“The fire jumped the road and it was on both sides of the road so we couldn’t go north, so we figured we’d better evacuate before we had no access to get out,” Cobb said. “We were told in one of our conference sessions that there was a two-hour window of opportunity to get people north, so we were directing traffic north, and then I understand it stayed open most of the night.”

The fires closest to Williams Lake remain more than a kilometre away and did not come any closer overnight. The situation to the west of the community on Highway 20 is more urgent, with Alexis Creek and Tl’entinqox t-in First Nation (Anaham) also under evacuation order.

“They all had to come through Williams Lake, because we’re the hub here, and Alexis Creek and all those people had to come through Williams Lake and that’s what caused a big part of the traffic problem,” Cobb said.“It took over eight hours to get from Williams Lake to Kamloops, and that’s normally no more than a three-hour trip.”

Elders and children have been evacuated from Anaham, with other residents staying to fight the fires.

Williams Lake isn’t completely empty.

“I have seen a couple of vehicles drive around,” Cobb said. “Tim Hortons is open today, which is good because we have 150 RCMP in town, so you’ve got to keep them supplied.”

Just Posted

Minor hockey’s Langley Cup featured four days of hockey action

The long-running annual tournament featured four divisions March 16 to 19.

LETTER: Grateful for any support on interim tree protection bylaw for Langley

Letter writer Brian Cameron tries clarifying his stance on ALR and trees after councillor’s letter.

Lower Mainland could see spring flurries

Snow expected at higher elevations

Three Giants named to second all-star team

Langley-based G-Men Bowen Byram, Ty Ronning, David Tendeck all recognized by WHL.

Most people seem to like Township’s big plans for Fort Langley

The survey results of a proposed redevelopment project were presented at Monday’s council meeting.

Ottawa proposes restricted pot labels, packages

Packaging will include red stop sign with marijuana leaf and ‘THC’

BCHL Today: Wenatchee goes Wild against Vernon Vipers

BCHL Today is a (near) daily look at what’s going on around the league and the junior A world.

B.C’s Indigenous tourism takes centre stage in Chilliwack

One-day workshop will look at ways to imbue the industry with authenticity

B.C. landlords collect too much personal information, watchdog says

Report suggests low vacancy rates lead landlords to believe they can collect whatever info they want

Rupert the therapy bunny sidelined due to deadly virus outbreak

Chilliwack’s famous therapy rabbit quarantined for his own safety, people not at risk

Quebec daycare subsidies offer warning for B.C., study says

Over-55 women more likely to join paid workforce than young mothers

5 to start your day

A famous bunny sidelined in Chilliwack, multiple vehicles torched in Aldergrove and more

Travellers urged to be careful after Coquitlam agency’s licence yanked

Regulating body shut down Kimiya Travel Ltd. on Friday

Heavy ice off Canada coast strands pod of dolphins, fixating small town

The small Newfoundland community, Heart’s Delight, is fixated on plight of trapped dolphins

Most Read