UPDATE: A 38-year-old Big Lake resident has been arrested after $65,000 in heavy equipment was seized from a Beaver Creek property. The Combined Forces Special Enforcement Unit of British Columbia has charged Shane Brady with possession of stolen property with a value higher than $5000. Big Lake is located just east of Williams Lake.
Williams Lake RCMP Insp. Jeff Pelley said police are working hard in and around Williams Lake to protect properties and target offenders trying to profit from the current wildfire emergency that has gripped the Cariboo Chilcotin.
“Our officers are working really hard within a strategic operational plan to enhance public safety and to execute the safe evacuation of Williams Lake and its surrounding communities,” Pelley said Monday morning, noting he has been given hundreds of extra officers to assist with check points, evacuation plans, core policing duties and to target priority offenders known for committing break and enters and thefts.
“We are trying to stay ahead of it and are being proactive. We are targeting individuals who are involved in these types of crimes so that they can’t revictimize the community during this state of emergency.”
RELATED: Break and enter arrest made in 100 Mile evacuation area
Pelley confirmed the RCMP have made arrests both pre and post evacuation order with an announcement expected later today of arrests and thousands of dollars in stolen property recovered from a rural residence Sunday near Williams Lake.
“Everyone is working really hard. We physically get out and check residences both in the city and in the rural areas.”
RELATED: Finding the silver lining in an evacuation
As well as protecting properties, RCMP also assisted in successfully pulling off one of the largest evacuation orders in B.C. history, while forest fires threatened the closure of planned escape routes.
At approximately 5 p.m. Saturday, officials at the Emergency Services Centre were notified that the White Lake fire had jumped the Fraser River, setting off a series of discussion and decisions surrounding the evacuation order and route.
VIDEO: Thousands evacuate Williams Lake by school bus
At the same time, the fire reached Highway 97 north closing off access to the planned northern route to Prince George. Throughout the day Saturday, 100 Mile House crews were also fighting the Gustafsen fire which also reached the edge of Highway 97 just north of 100 Mile House. As evacuates drove past the community of 103 Mile sprinklers were spraying water in the ditches and highway along the community on the east side of the road to keep the fire at bay.
By the time the evacuation order was given at 6 p.m., hundreds of RCMP officers mobilized and were stationed with their lights flashing at every intersection leading out of Williams Lake and at every approach and side road over a 200-kilometre stretch from Williams Lake to 100 Mile House to Littlefort, travelling through evacuated zones such as 150 Mile House, 100 Mile House and the pending alert and orders in the Green Lake area.
“It went very well,” Pelley said. “There were no accidents or injuries. It was very successful.”