Mayor Walt Cobb says the smoke is worse in Williams Lake today (Wednesday) than it was on Tuesday.
“I’m sitting in front of CJ’s Southwestern Grill right now and can only see as far as the hospital,” Cobb told the Tribune, noting he was at the restaurant to make sure owner Cathie Rossignol has everything she needs because she and her staff are cooking for workers on the front line.
Trucks hauling gas, food and medical supplies are being let into the city, no questions asked, Cobb said.
“We are starting to run out of things and are hoping to make arrangements for some of the grocery stores to be able to bring enough workers in to sell essentials like milk.”
Cobb and his wife Lynnette have been sleeping in a motorhome at the fire hall.
Coun. Scott Nelson is the only other member of city council that remained in Williams Lake, however, Cobb said Coun. Craig Smith returned to the city Wednesday to start making some signage at his shop for when the evacuation order is rescinded. Cobb, however, does not know when that will be.
Nelson has kept his gas station - Best Buy Propane open - from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m. and 7 p.m. to 9:30 p.m. and said it has been very busy.
“We have firefighters, emergency services, the odd traveller going through, but mostly essential services.”
Nelson’s son Lucas and his wife Twila also stayed behind.
Echoing Cobb, Nelson said the smoke was very thick.
“It is probably one of the thickest smoke days we have had since the fires broke out,” he said. “Everybody is wearing masks.”
Nelson said the City is hoping to try and get people back in the community as soon as possible and is starting to put a plan in place to co-ordinate a safe re-entry.
“People are hoping to get home as soon as possible,” he added.
While his gas station still has pop, chocolate bars, water and gatorade, it has been cigarettes that have been one of the top priorities.
At home they’ve been keeping the air conditioning on non-stop, but as soon as he steps outside a thick wall of smoke hits him.
Reminisicent of a week ago, it’s the weather that everyone is keeping an eye on.
Thursday is calling for wind, rain and lightning, Cobb said.
“We don’t know how much rain, they haven’t said.”
That’s the scarey part, Nelson added.
“The wind and lightning play such a role. The wind can can stir up a fire so quickly and lightning can start more.”
Meanwhile the air quality index remains above 10, which means it is a hazard, especially for people with breathing or cardiac difficulties and for children, Environment and Climate Change Canada notes on its website.