A fire evacuation centre at 8 o’clock on a Sunday morning resembles nothing more than a mid-priced hotel lobby, maybe slightly less organized.
There is someone in a uniform at the reception desk, and tables of fruit, muffins, coffee and water – a continental breakfast.
In Princeton B.C. it is also very quiet, with only a handful of volunteers, some local politicians and the occasional evacuee wandering in to grab a banana and ask for information.
The last update, 10:30 a.m. Sunday, put the Princeton fire at 1,500 hectares.
Ken Heuser, who evacuated from his home on Highway 5A with his wife Friday evening, was at the centre Sunday morning with his grandsons. His family is staying with Heuser’s daughter who lives in Princeton.
“We go out every day to Bedford Road to take a look and see where the clouds are.”
Heuser said they had several hours Friday to pack valuables like pictures and keepsakes into two vehicles, and drive safely to town.
The couple had not previously prepared an evacuation bag or checklist.
“No we talked about it, but we never did quite do it.”
Heuser said he has been overwhelmed by the kindness and assistance evacuees have received over the weekend.
“People in this community have come together. It’s a blessing to live here…I’m glad to be a Canadian today, that’s for sure.”
Nearly all of the residents of 60 families evacuated Friday have registered at the centre, located at Riverside, and all had family or motel accommodations last night according to Eric Gregson, Emergency Social Services volunteer and former Princeton fire chief.
One hundred and ten cots are being set up at the Princeton arena as a back up plan, he said.
“The arena has been designated as our group lodging centre. It is not open to the public. It is part of our plan to have that facility as required.”
Another 428 homes in the Missezula Lake, Erris and Jura areas remain on evacuation alert.
Gregson said the evacuation centre does not require more donations at this time, while people wanting to help are being asked to call the centre at 250-293-6672 so their names can be put on a list for donations or volunteer expertise in the coming days.