Statement – Commissioner Dwayne McDonald, Commanding Officer of the BC RCMP
Over the past 24 hours, British Columbians have witnessed significant events as a number serious wildfires began including one that has devastated a community.
These fires have already required a number of evacuations by BC RCMP officers and our partners including in the Village of Lytton which has suffered significant damage to the community and its infrastructure. Lytton RCMP, with the support of neighbour detachments, and other emergency response partners were fully involved in the evacuation efforts.
I would like to take this opportunity to share our condolences to the people of Lytton, neighbouring Indigenous communities, and everyone else that has been affected by yesterdays events, including our Lytton RCMP officers, employees and their families. Unfortunately, I can confirm that our employees have lost homes and the Lytton RCMP Detachment has been destroyed.
Based on the volatility of the current situation the BC RCMP has stood up our Division Emergency Operations Centre (DEOC). The DEOC is our command and coordination facility where we provide operational support and assistance to frontline policing in terms of planning, logistics, resource deployment and procurement of necessary supplies and equipment, like respirators, and protective eyewear…. to name a few.
With respect to our current efforts – in the Lytton area restrictions are in place as it is unsafe for anyone to enter given the significant and ongoing safety hazards. Please respect the closures. The decision to limit access is not one made solely by the RCMP. We are working within a unified command structure. The situation is being continually assessed and when safe to do so we will be entering the area to conduct a formal search, specifically for any injured or missing people. We have not been able to confirm any fatalities at this time.
We echo the request for all evacuees to register on line https://ess.gov.bc.ca/ or at an evacuation centre. We are also planning to implement roving patrols and community security measures once we can access the community.
To support the next steps, the RCMP has called in additional resources and started the deployment of police officers and support staff to the Lytton area and other new or active wildfires in our province. The numbers are changing regularly, but it would be safe to say that as of this afternoon upwards of 100 additional officers have been or will be deployed.
RCMP officers are currently working closely with the BC Wildfire Services and our local communities to deal with a number of evacuation alerts and orders.
When these events do require police involvement we would ask for the public’s patience and understanding as we work to ensure the safety of the communities we serve.
I would also encourage everyone to have an emergency plan, monitor local alert and access the supports and resources available. As we witnessed yesterday everyone moment counts if an evacuation is necessary. For more information, visit https://news.gov.bc.ca/releases/2021PSSG0045-001290
As we enter the beginning of fire season I encourage everyone to practice safe habits to limit the potential for wildfires. It is always our hope that we will not be required, but I would like to assure everyone in British Columbia that we are prepared and your safety is our priority.