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The Premier flew in

Portrait of a mustached man in a blue baseball cap speaking into microphones.

Premier Glen Clark announces a state of emergency. It is time to evacuate!

Thanks for asking about my recollection of the big Silver Creek Fire in 1998- what a great idea! My role, of course, was tiny when compared to the firefighters and people in Salmon Arm.  I remember the difficult decision to evacuate the town. At the time, it was the largest evacuation in BC history. While in hindsight it probably seems like a straightforward decision, I can tell you that the speed of the winds and the escalation of the fire was truly frightening.

Three ambulance attendants loading a person on a stretcher into an ambulance. Emergency worker in orange outfit with reflective stripes looks on.

Evacuating the Shuswap Lake General Hospital. 250 patients from the hospital, Pioneer Lodge, and Bastion Place were evacuated. Patients were sent to neighbouring communities.

The decisions had to come quick! I remember that it was so serious that the hospital was ordered to evacuate (I think a first as well!). When I visited Salmon Arm, Mayor Colin Mayes briefed me on the feelings ‘on the ground.’ I was very impressed by the attitude of the people in the community and the professionalism of the emergency preparedness team. While there was a great deal of tension, you could really feel people pulling together to do whatever it took to protect lives.

Glen Clark
Premier of B.C. in 1998

Photo credit:
James Murray, Salmon Arm Observer, c. 1998