Evacuation Alerts & Orders - What's the difference?

July 11, 2015

Yesterday, the FVRD issued an evacuation alert for the Nahatlatch region due to the threat of the Cougar Creek wildfire. An evacuation alert DOES NOT mean residents have to leave their homes, and businesses affected within the alert zone continue to be open. An evacuation order may follow an alert, but oftentimes our partners with the BC Wildfire Service are able to contain the situation before that becomes necessary. Here is some more information about the difference between an evacuation alert and an evacation order in a wildfire:

Evacuation Alerts

An evacuation alert is a notification of a risk in your area. Evacuation alerts are issued to advise the affected population of the potential for loss of life and/or property from a hazard, and that they should be prepared to evacuate in the near future. Everyone in the affected area should prepare to move to a safe area quickly if that becomes necessary. The FVRD makes the decision to issue an evacuation alert based on the technical expertise from the BC Wildfire Service.

B.C.'s forests and wildlands cover over 94 million hectares (nearly a million square kilometres) and are the most diverse in Canada. Highly trained fire crews are confronted by an average of 2,000 wildfires each year.

The BC Wildfire Service is tasked with managing wildfires on both Crown and private lands and is mandated to protect life and assets, particularly forests and grasslands, and gives high priority to fires in areas where communities and forests come together. 

To prepare for the potential evacuation:

  • Gather essential items such as medications, eyeglasses, valuable papers,
    and immediate care needs for dependants.
  • Know the location of all family members and determine a planned meeting place
    should an evacuation be called while separated. Determine an out of area
    contact to be used for family reunification and to pass messages between
    impacted family members.
  • Prepare to evacuate people with disabilities, elderly and children. Ensure family
    members all carry appropriate information on health issues and needs
    (particularly children).
  • Relocate livestock to a safe area immediately, if possible.
  • Ensure you have appropriate means to contain your pet should evacuation be
    necessary and you wish to take your pet with you (crate, kennel, small animal
    bag, leash, etc). Ensure you have a supply of special diet pet food should your
    pet require it. If you choose not to bring your pet, ensure that there is some
    indication on the outside of your residence informing responders of the presence
    of a pet(s) and any challenges this may present.
  • If possible arrange accommodation for your family in the event of an evacuation.
  • Ensure you have sufficient fuel in the vehicle you have chosen to use for the
  • Follow the instructions which have been provided to you in the Evacuation Alert.
    If you need transportation, the Evacuation Alert provides information regarding
    transportation assistance.
  • Community emergency plans have been prepared to ensure your safety. It is
    important that you follow the directives you are given by the authorities to ensure
    your safety.

Evacuation Orders

An evacuation order is issued by the FVRD in response to hazards with the potential to cause loss of life and/or loss or property to the residents to identified affected area(s). Evacuation orders are issued in the interest of life safety.

Members of the BC Wildfire Service, RCMP, Search and Rescue, Fire Departments, and ESS volunteers may be involved in evacuation through door to door contact, media advisories, electronic media, etc. Evacuation orders are only issued when the FVRD determines it is absolutely necessary, based on the technical expertise and advice of its partners on the front line of the wildfire. 

When an evacuation is ordered:

  • Gather personal/family emergency kit including a flashlight and portable radio if
  • Take everything you will require for an extended stay
  • Follow the instructions which have been provided to you in the evacuation order
  • Proceed quickly and calmly to nearest evacuation site (temporary or permanent)
  • Report to the ESS Reception Centre indicated and register with the people
    staffing that centre. This will allow for effective communications from the
    evacuation team and will facilitate contact by friends or relatives.

Community emergency plans have been prepared to ensure your safety. It is important that you follow the directions you are given by the authorities to ensure your safety.

Once the hazard is contained, the FVRD will rescind an evacuation alert or order and provide information on how residents may return safely to the area.

For updates on the Cougar Creek wildfire and the current evacuation alert for the Nahatlatch region, please monitor our home page or follow us on social media with #FVRDWildfire.