BY BILL PHILLIPS
There is a clear juxtaposition here.
On one side the squeals of kids riding the Zipper can be clearly heard and the smell of popcorn wafts through the air.
On the other side, the smell of gasoline lingers in the air and the roar of motocross bicycles assaults the eardrums.
It’s the annual British Columbia Northern Exhibition. But in the middle of the fun and excitement there is a small group of people who wish they were anywhere but here.
The lineup for wildfire evacuees isn’t that long Friday afternoon, but the flow has been steady.
Robert and Leigh Embey from Fort St. James left their home on Thursday. They spent the night at West Lake but the wasps were so bad they decided to register at the Emergency Operations Centre at CN Centre Friday. In addition, Leigh had a hip operation a few years ago and sleeping outdoors is just too hard and too cold for her hip.
“We going to see if we can get a room today,” she says. “I’m just hoping. It’s just too crazy.”
It’s been a long couple of days as they left Fort St. James at 2 a.m. Thursday morning.
“By the evening they changed it from an alert to an evacuation,” says Robert.
Leigh sats information prior to them leaving was hard to come by and, of course, there is the uncertainty of not knowing what they will be going back to.
“We went to work and they came to the office and said everyone is leaving,” she says.
They packed up as many of their possessions as possible including important documents, valuables, and, of course, their pets.
“The Humane Society has our two cats and our dog,” she says. “My poor cats, they’re so upset. It’s the first time they’ve ever been away from home, but we saw them today.”
A few feet away from the lineup, Rainbow Thomas, also from Fort St. James, waits to get her two dogs Allie and Luna taken care of.
She left Fort St. James a few days ago and has been sharing a hotel room, but it’s getting crowded with the two dogs, so she decided to try and get them fostered.
Meanwhile, the evacuation order remains in effect for east of the center of Taltapin Lake and the Bomberger FSR to south of the Camsell FSR-Cunningham FSR Junction and Cunningham FSR-Marie North FSR Junction. The west and north shore of Fraser Lake to Dog Creek Rd. and Nadleh River, the Dog Creek Community west and east of Highway 27 along Cook Rd. and Kenner Rd.; and, the Echo Lake Bible Camp.
All of Fort St. James remains on evacuation alert.