Hosting Wildfire Evacuees: Response Generated Demands in Kamloops, British Columbia

Monday, 16 July 2018: 17:30
Oral Presentation
Aaida MAMUJI, York University, Canada
Jack ROZDILSKY, York University, Canada
The 2017 wildfires in interior British Colombia, Canada were unprecedented, burning more territory than any year since 1958. As a result of the fires and the ensuing smoke, over 40,000 persons were forced to evacuate from their homes. Almost 11,000 of these individuals evacuated to Kamloops, B.C., a primary location for receiving waves of wildfire evacuees from the Thompson-Nicola Regional District.

This presentation is based on a quick response project conducted in August 2017, during which time the principal investigators met with key public officials and professional representatives from the City of Kamloops, the Thompson-Nicola Regional District, Emergency Management British Colombia, and Kamloops area social service providers and community organizations. The temporary population influx of evacuees along with the convergence of both materiel and personnel created unique opportunities and unintended challenges for the community of 90,000. The response-generated demands placed on Kamloops in its capacity as a host-city during the 2017 wildfire season are presented from physical, economic and social perspectives, both in short and long term.

Mass movement of people temporarily fleeing danger is likely to become more commonplace, especially given that key indicators of fire behavior in the Canadian west suggest that upcoming fire seasons will be very active. Lessons drawn from the 2017 Kamloops experience are therefore useful for future response planning and implementation of emergency procedures on local, regional and provincial levels.