Bald Mountain fire forced closure of Highway 20 from Williams Lake to Bella Coola. (BC Wildfire Service)

Bald Mountain fire forced closure of Highway 20 from Williams Lake to Bella Coola. (BC Wildfire Service)

Financial support offered to fire-affected businesses

$1,500 emergency grants also for aboriginal communities, non-profits

The B.C. government is offering emergency grants of $1,500 for eligible small businesses affected by wildfires in the B.C. Interior.

Forests Minister Doug Donaldson announced Monday the grants will be administered through the Red Cross, which has also distributed $600 payments to individuals and families forced from their homes by fires. The grants will also be available to aboriginal communities and non-profits affected by fires and highway closures.

Businesses and organizations along Highway 20, evacuation areas on Highway 97 south of Prince George, Highway 26 to Barkerville and the eastern Cariboo Regional District communities of Horsefly and Likely.

The eligibility will be reviewed and adjusted as conditions change, but the government wants to get the program going as soon as possible, Donaldson said.

Applications are open today and online application forms are available here. Information on the program and links are also available at www.redcross.ca and the Red Cross has a small business phone helpline at 1-855-999-3345. Phone service is available Monday to Friday between 6 a.m. and 5 p.m.

Eligible organizations are those with 50 employers or fewer, have a income of less than $250,000 per year, have been in operation on or before July 7, 2017 and have resumed operations or are intending to restart as soon as possible.

“We know that hundreds of small businesses in rural B.C. have been adversely impacted by wildfire activity and this initial support is designed to give these businesses some assistance as they resume operations again,” said Jobs Minister Bruce Ralston.

Rain across some of the fire-affected regions helped slow down fires, but B.C. Wildfire Service spokesman Kevin Skrepnek said they were showers and the effect is temporary.

“We’re likely going to see conditions rebound pretty quickly here,” Skrepnek said.

Dr. Bonnie Henry of the B.C. Centre for Disease Control said that the smoke that has hung over some communities for the past month has led to an increase in medical visits from people with chronic respiratory conditions, it is not expected to have long-term impacts.

“We still consider even the month to be relatively short term exposure,” Henry said. “We don’t expect long-term health effects as you would see with long-term exposure to air pollution like you would see in a city like Beijing.”

The latest estimate in area burned by the more than 1,000 wildfires reported since April 1 is 7,290 square kilometres, an area more than twice the size of Metro Vancouver. By that measure it is the second largest fire season on record for B.C., with more than 8,500 square kilometres burned in 1958.

Costs to date are $292 million, with 4,000 people working on the fire control effort.

Skrepnek said many seasonal firefighters and support workers are preparing to return to school or work after the Labour Day weekend, and plans are underway to replace them if necessary. Fire department dispatchers and military personnel are being recruited, he said.

bc wildfires

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

This Dec. 2, 2020, file photo provided by Johnson & Johnson shows vials of the COVID-19 vaccine in the United States. (Johnson & Johnson via AP)
Interior Health notes 80 new COVID-19 cases over the weekend

108 people in the region have died from the virus

The Fraser River is seen west of Williams Lake from Doc English Bluff Ecological Reserve. (Rebecca Dyok photo)
Tsilhqot’in National Government appeals Gibraltar Mines’ permit to discharge into Fraser River

Permit amendments fail to adequately protect the environment and human health, says TNG

The Horsefly Community Hall will be the site of a mobile vaccine clinic March 19, 2021. (Angie Mindus photo - Williams Lake Tribune)
Six COVID-19 vaccine clinics to open in Cariboo Chilcotin

100 Mile, Alexis Creek, Big Lake, Horsefly, Williams Lake and Tatla Lake

A Williams Lake area family living on Knife Creek Road lost everything to a house fire on Wednesday, March 3. (Photo submitted)
House fire destroys rural family home south of Williams Lake

The Macdonalds built their home on Knife Creek Road about 30 years ago

A special committee has been appointed to look at reforming B.C.’s police act and is inviting the public to make submissions until April 30, 2021. (Black Press media file)
Public input sought for B.C.’s police act review

Submissions will be accepted until April 30

(The Canadian Press)
‘Worse than Sept. 11, SARS and financial crisis combined’: Tourism industry in crisis

Travel services saw the biggest drop in active businesses with 31 per cent fewer firms operating

Cannabis bought in British Columbia (Ashley Wadhwani/Black Press Media)
Is it time to start thinking about greener ways to package cannabis?

Packaging suppliers are still figuring eco-friendly and affordable packaging options that fit the mandates of Cannabis Regulations

Montreal Canadiens right wing Paul Byron (41) fights for control of the puck with Vancouver Canucks defenceman Quinn Hughes (43) during first period NHL action in Vancouver, Monday, March 8, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jonathan Hayward
Captain Clutch: Horvat nets shootout winner as Canucks edge Habs 2-1

Vancouver, Montreal tangle again on Wednesday

Cottonwoods Care Home in Kelowna. (Google Maps)
New COVID-19 outbreak at Kelowna care home includes fully vaccinated seniors: Henry

Two staff and 10 residents tested positive at Cottonwoods Care Centre

Excerpts from a conversation between Bria Fisher and the fake truLOCAL job. Fisher had signed a job agreement and was prepared to start work for what she thought was truLOCAL before she learned it was a scam. (Contributed)
B.C. woman warning others after losing $3,000 in job scam

Bria Fisher was hired by what she thought was a Canadian company, only to be out thousands

Provincial health officer Dr. Bonnie Henry and Health Minister Adrian Dix provide a regular update on the COVID-19 situation, B.C. legislature, March 2, 2020. (B.C. government)
B.C.’s COVID-19 cases: 545 Saturday, 532 Sunday, 385 Monday

Focus on Prince Rupert, Lower Mainland large workplaces

Rising accident rates and payout costs have contributed to billion-dollar deficits at ICBC. (Comox Valley Record)
B.C. appealing decision keeping ICBC injury cases in court

David Eby vows to ‘clip wings’ of personal injury lawyers

(Black Press Media files)
Hosts charged, attendees facing COVID fines after Vancouver police bust party at condo

Police had previously received 10 complaints about that condo

Most Read