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

UPDATED: Cranbrook’s India Sherret crashes in Olympic debut, in stable condition at hospital

Ski cross athlete loses balance mid-race in seeding round of event in Pyeongchang

Man pleads guilty to 2013 stabbing

A Cranbrook resident has pleaded guilty to an aggravated assault case from… Continue reading

City of Cranbrook culls 50 urban deer

In an effort to reduce incidents of deer aggression across the community,… Continue reading

Kimberley Skating Club receives Barclay Team Trophy at Kootenay Championships

The Kimberley Skating Club competed in the Kootenay Championships from February 9… Continue reading

Coldest Night of the Year takes place Saturday

Fundraising walk draws support and awareness for the homless, hungry and hurting

WATCH: The week in review

A video recap of the top stories of the past week in Cranbrook

Local search and rescue teams carry out joint exercises with military crews

Submitted Military search and rescue (SAR) teams from two different squadrons recently… Continue reading

Police stop stolen car with spike belt

Several charges were laid and a man and woman taken into custody… Continue reading

Novelmania: TM Roberts grade 6 students unveil published novels

Novel unveiling ceremony at TM Roberts’ library on Monday, February 19

BCHL Today: Merritt Centennials keep moving while Salmon Arm Silverbacks slide

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

Former Canuck Roberto Luongo addresses Florida shooting victims

Parkland, Fla., resident, delivers speech before Florida Panthers’ first home game since tragedy

OLYMPIC ROUNDUP: Kelowna skier Kesley Serwa adds to Canada’s gold medals

Despite losses in men’s hockey and curling, Canadian women won medals in ski cross and figure skating

Suspected serial killer targeting Toronto gay community now faces six murder charges

Bruce McArthur now charged with murders of six men: Toronto police

Most Read