Cheslatta Carrier Nation’s (CCN) traditional territory present and past fire overview map. (CCN image)

Cheslatta Carrier Nation’s (CCN) traditional territory present and past fire overview map. (CCN image)

A bittersweet return home for evacuated residents south of Burns Lake

“There’s a lot of anxiety and stress,” says Cheslatta’s senior policy advisor

Although some Southside residents are relieved to return home after being evacuated for weeks, for some the return home means adjusting to a new reality.

“There’s a lot of anxiety and stress,” described Mike Robertson, Senior Policy Advisor for Cheslatta Carrier Nation. “Power is out… people in the agriculture industry have woodlots, and a lot of those woodlots that were a pretty important part of their income are gone now.”

Robertson said the permitting process put in place by the Regional District of Bulkley-Nechako (RDBN) has also been adding to the anxiety and stress.

The RDBN has been granting permits for people to take certain supplies to Southside residents who have chosen to stay behind. However, even with the permit people are not allowed to go into the Southside.

READ MORE: People with permits now allowed to take supplies to Southside residents

“This permitting process has basically turned all the Southsiders into liars, pirates and smugglers,” said Robertson. “We’re finding back routes, and we’ve had to sneak people in at nighttime on the water… it’s just ridiculous.”

Robertson was able to return home last week like the rest of the Cheslatta members after approximately 20 days of evacuation.

“It’s a relief to me, but I feel bad for my fellow Southsiders that are still in the [evacuation] order area,” he said. “Those people have been through hell over the past month.”

Although portions of the evacuation orders issued for the Verdun Mountain and Nadina Lake fires were rescinded last week, evacuation orders remain in effect for the Southside as of press time.

For the most up-to-date information about evacuation orders and alerts, visit

Re-entry considerations

The RDBN has been advising residents to take basic precautions when returning home. These include:

– Thoroughly checking for hazards on your property, paying special attention to any danger trees that may be present;

– Before using your water for consumption, flush the system to remove all stagnant water from your household water lines by running all cold and hot water taps for at least five minutes before using them;

– When you are trying to decide what food to keep or throw away, be safe and always remember, “When in doubt, throw it out.”

Dispose of:

– Any unrefrigerated raw vegetables or fruits, or any foods that were stored in porous containers (e.g. cardboard, foam containers, etc.);

– Food that was in bowls on counters/tables;

– Food that shows signs of damage from heat or fire, including ash or smoke;

– Any food displaying an off odour or signs of spoilage.

For questions about re-entry of livestock, contact the RDBN at 250-692-3195 or 1-800-320-3339.

For questions about fluctuations in electrical service quality, contact BC Hydro at 1-888-769 3766.



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