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Local economies struggle as some wildfire evacuees go home

(Marcella Bernardo, NEWS 1130 Photo)

Cache Creek mayor encouraging people to visit to help boost economic woes

Experts say small communities suffer the most during natural disasters like wildfires

KAMLOOPS (NEWS 1130) – An air quality advisory is expected to last throughout most of the morning, at least, as smoke from BC’s wildfires continues to filter into Metro Vancouver — a sign of the continued troubles in the central and southern Interior.

Despite that, there is some good news. The people of Cache Creek were able to wake up in their own homes for the first time in more than a week this morning, but there may be some challenges ahead for the small community.

It was one of the first to be evacuated as the wildfire season exploded nearly two weeks ago. Roughly 1,000 people were out of their homes for 11 days because of the massive Ashcroft Reserve fire which is burning nearby.

Cache Creek Mayor John Ranta is happy people are home and has high praise for both BC’s firefighters and the local volunteer department which spent the past few days putting out hotspots around the community. He also has a message for anyone travelling through the area.

“We obviously would appreciate people coming and spending a night in Cache Creek. Having a meal in Cache Creek. Buying gas in Cache Creek — whatever, we’re here to serve.”

While we’ve seen the wildfires affect the province’s resource industries, from pipelines to lumber mills to mine activity, Jeremy Stone with UBC’s School of Community and Regional Planning says local economies like Cache Creek will take more time to recover from evacuations and wildfires.

“Local economies are especially susceptible to small business loss and lost wages because, generally, they don’t have incredible diversification and so they have needs for every business, for every job in that community.”

Meanwhile, 50 experts from Australia are expected to arrive today to help.

Fire Information Officer Navi Saini says they’ll be assigned where the highest need. “They have expertise in areas such as equipment, technology, logistical support, fire behaviour — that sort of thing. They won’t be physically fighting fires on the ground, but with their experience, it can augment what we use here in the province.”

More than 45,000 people are out of their homes as 155 wildfires burn in the province.

If you would like to pitch in, you can help the Canadian Red Cross by texting FIRES to 45678. Your $10 donation will go toward the provincial fundraising appeal.