Smoke from nearby wildfires greets weary travellers at Kersley Saturday night where an RCMP road block is set up.
Keeping residential traffic moving north, while only allowing work and fire crews south, RCMP and fatigued flaggers like Bonnie Kelly are asking everyone if they are OK and if they have enough gas and provisions to get them to Prince George.
“I’m tired. I’m very very tired,” said Kelly, who left her own home at Alexandria to work and has since had only three hours sleep.
“But we are all trying to stay hopeful and be positive. That’s all we can do.”
Kelly said evacuees from 100 Mile House, 108 Mile House and Williams Lake have been coming through, sharing any information they have with officers and flaggers about the current situation in neighbouring Williams Lake.
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South of Quesnel alone there are fires burning with visible smoke; the Dragon Mountain fire, the Green Mountain fire and the Alexandria fire which crossed the Fraser River and threatened homes.
Kelly said she believes the Alexandria fire is stable but doesn’t rule out anything with the current conditions.
“As long as everyone’s safe. That’s what matters. Personal possessions can be replaced.”
Kelly said vehicles coming from Williams Lake and beyond are filled with personal possessions.
“They have got what they could get before they they had to evacuate.”
At the directive of the province, evacuees are now being encouraged to head to Prince George and not Quesnel.
Posted by Quesnel Cariboo Observer on Saturday, July 8, 2017
Rider Cheyne arrived at the road block just before dark, hoping he could get through to his home just outside of Williams Lake but was turned away.
He said he understood everyone was doing their jobs but he thought residents with properties and animals should be allowed through.
“I came all the way back [from Whitehorse] only to not get home,” he said.
The West Fraser Road also connects Williams Lake and Quesnel but Rcmp Const. Matt Magra said it is not recommended.
“We are advising people not to travel that route.”
Everywhere you look in Quesnel, travellers can be seen shopping for food and other items – filling up the parking lots in places like Walmart.
While south central evacuees are being urged to continue on through to Prince George, local evacuees such as those from Alexandria are being helped in Quesnel.
MLA Coralee Oakes spent much of Friday and Saturday at the ESS centre, greeting evacuees and giving hugs to those in need.
“Anything we can do to help, we will,” she said.