Smoke from wildfires in Telegraph Creek. (Submitted)

Prince Rupert’s doors open to wildfire evacuees

The Civic Centre has capacity to accommodate over a hundred people if required

The City of Prince Rupert has activated its Emergency Social Services (ESS) program at the Jim Ciccone Centre to prepare for possible wildfire evacuees from other areas of the province.

Veronika Stewart, the city’s communications manager, said the Civic Centre will currently serve as a reception and registration centre for evacuees when they first enter Prince Rupert since there are enough commercial spaces available to accommodate individuals who need places to stay.

READ MORE: Three fires merge with Alkali Lake blaze

So far, only one evacuee has registered at the Civic Centre since it became an ESS centre on Aug 18. The individual stayed briefly in Prince Rupert before moving on to another location.

Stewart said should there be a sudden large influx of evacuees to Prince Rupert, the Civic Centre has the capacity to temporarily accommodate a few hundred people.

“There are cots, we have showers and there would be food available,” she said. “However, based on the updates we’ve gotten from the PREOC (Provincial Regional Emergency Operations Centres), we don’t anticipate any more people coming in over the weekend unless something changes.”

READ MORE: B.C. wildfires 2018: Hazy skies impacting crews in spotting new fires

Stewart said should there be a sudden influx of people to Prince Rupert, the city would welcome walk-in volunteers to help with greeting, directing and other hospitality services. She added that the city is also looking for ESS volunteers on a year-round basis.

“It’s good to have people to call on in a situation like this if needed,” she said.

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