A chopper is shown dropping water on the eastern slopes of Zeballos on Aug. 17. Photo by David Gordon Koch/Campbell River Mirror

Slope instability leads to extended evacuation order in Zeballos

Residents still displaced after wildfires lead to risk of falling debris and slides

The Village of Zeballos has extended an evacuation order and a state of local emergency due to continued slope instability in the tiny coastal settlement.

But some residents are ignoring the evacuation order because they don’t have anywhere else to go, according to Zeballos Emergency Program Coordinator Mike Atchison.

“They’ve gone home at their own risk,” Atchison said. “One family was living in a travel trailer, and it’s just too cold to live in there during the winter, so they’ve been forced to go home.”

READ MORE: Evacuees say the BC Wildfire Service should have responded faster to Zeballos flare-up

He said there’s a shortage of housing for people displaced by the evacuation order in Zeballos.

“We don’t have a huge selection of empty homes that we can put families in to get them through the winter,” Atchison said.

The order applies to 15 homes, along with a hotel and a number of vacant lots. There are 21 people affected, according to village staff.

Atchison said that some people have simply left the village due to the evacuation order.

“I know there’s lots of people that were here that had to move their families,” he said.

People are continuing to receive support from the provincial Emergency Social Services (ESS) program, Atchison said.

Those services – which include food, lodging, clothes and other forms of support – are available to people forced from their homes by fires, floods, earthquakes and other emergencies, according to a government website.

The services are normally available for 72 hours after an emergency, but the province has extended ESS support “for an undetermined length of time,” according to Justin Janisse, a village councillor.

“This has been known to be helpful to families in need for up to a year and is situational,” Janisse said in a Facebook message to Black Press.

Council extended the state of local emergency and evacuation order during a Nov. 27 meeting after receiving legal advice on the matter, Atchison said.

“If they were to lift the state of local emergency and let the people back in knowing that there’s still a risk, they would be liable,” he said.

READ MORE: 2018 B.C.’s worst wildfire season on record

The village wants the province to monitor the mountainside and conduct a study into the integrity of the slope, so that the village can decide whether people can return to their homes, Atchison said.

In mid-August, the village ordered the evacuation of six homes due to the risk of falling debris during a wildfire that eventually engulfed an estimated 128 hectares and filled the air with smoke.

When rains quenched the fires in September, the village expanded the evacuation order due to the risk of falling debris or slides.

A report released in October by the consulting firm BGC Engineering stated that wildfires led to a roughly tenfold increase in “debris flow and rock fall probability” on the steep eastern slopes of the remote logging village.

Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter

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

Just Posted

Protesters showcase massive old yellow cedar as Port Renfrew area forest blockade continues

9.5-foot-wide yellow cedar measured by Ancient Forest Alliance campaigners in Fairy Creek watershed

Business notes: WINGS set to close on Aug. 29

A few of the things going on in Cowichan’s business community

Collision knocks over fire hydrant on Ypres Street

Duncan firefighters quick to get situation under control

Pumps not needed on the Cowichan River this year

Wet year so far has resulted in higher water levels

‘Don’t kill my mom’: Ryan Reynolds calls on young British Columbians to be COVID-smart

‘Deadpool’ celebrity responds to premier’s call for social influence support

Expected fall peak of COVID-19 in Canada could overwhelm health systems: Tam

National modelling projections released Friday show an expected peak in cases this fall

Hundreds of sea lions to be killed on Columbia River in effort to save endangered fish

Nearly 22,000 comments received during public review were opposed, fewer than 200 were for

Devil’s Hand Poker Run in Campbell River to face RCMP scrutiny

The Campbell River RCMP will be keeping a close eye on the… Continue reading

B.C.’s fuel suppliers to publish prices to provide accountability: minister

Bruce Ralston says move will ensure industry publicly accountable for unexplained prices increases

Roots and Blues online festival live tonight on Black Press Media

Tune in to Black Press Media to watch the festival live Aug. 14, 15 and 16

Man suffers serious injuries in bear attack in remote area near Lillooet

It was deemed a defensive attack, no efforts were made to locate the animal

Missed rent payments because of COVID-19? You have until July 2021 to pay up

Each monthly instalment must be paid on the same date the rent is due

U.S.-Canada pandemic border restrictions extended into September

‘We will continue to keep our communities safe,’ says Public Safety Minister Bill Blair

Most Read