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

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

Sahtlam Volunteer Firefighters Association has stepped up, in spite of COVID, for a number of charities. (Submitted)
Sahtlam firefighters step up

Sahtlam Volunteer Firefighters Association has a long history of supporting charities

A mobile home fire prompted a quick response from firefighters Saturday around 3:30 p.m. (Kevin Rothbauer/Citizen)
Mobile home up in flames at Duncan RV Park

One patient burned, EHS on scene

Phaecelia used as a cover crop attracts bees and provides them with high quality nectar. (Mary Lowther photo)
Mary Lowther column: Cover crops keep soil healthy and productive

We don’t harvest a cover crop and instead dig the tops under when they’re immature and soft

Sarah Simpson
Sarah Simpson Column: Home is where you know your neighbours

My mom has lived at that address for 43 years.

The James C Richardson Pipe Band marches in a Remembrance Day parade on Nov. 11, 2019 in Chilliwack. Wednesday, March 10 is International Bagpipe Day. (Jenna Hauck/ Chilliwack Progress file)
Unofficial holidays: Here’s what people are celebrating for the week of March 7 to 13

International Bagpipe Day, Wash Your Nose Day and Kidney Day are all coming up this week

Cannabis bought in British Columbia (Ashley Wadhwani/Black Press Media)
Is it time to start thinking about greener ways to package cannabis?

Packaging suppliers are still figuring eco-friendly and affordable packaging options that fit the mandates of Cannabis Regulations

Victoria man Brett Andersen is asking for people’s help to secure him one of eight free tickets to the moon. (Screenshot/@brettandersen Instagram)
Victoria man wants your help securing a free ticket to the moon

Japanese billionaire offering eight people a trip to the moon

The Conservation Officers Service is warning aquarium users after invasive and potentially destructive mussels were found in moss balls from a pet store. (BC Conservation Officers Service/Facebook)
Aquarium users in B.C. warned after invasive mussels found at pet store

Conservation officers were told the mussels were found in a moss ball from a Terrace pet store.

Hockey hall-of-fame legend Wayne Gretzky, right, watches the casket of his father, Walter Gretzky, as it is carried from the church during a funeral service in Brantford, Ont., Saturday, March 6, 2021. HE CANADIAN PRESS/Nathan Denette
Walter Gretzky remembered as a man with a ‘heart of gold’ at funeral

The famous hockey father died Thursday at age 82 after battling Parkinson’s disease

Donald Alan Sweet was once an all star CFL kicker who played for the Montreal Alouettes and Montreal Concordes over a 13-year career. Photo courtesy of Mission RCMP.
Ex-B.C. teacher who was CFL kicker charged with assault, sexual crimes against former students

Donald Sweet taught in Mission School District for 10 years, investigators seek further witnesses

(Black Press Media files)
Medicine gardens help Victoria’s Indigenous kids in care stay culturally connected

Traditional plants brought to the homes of Indigenous kids amid the COVID-19 pandemic

During a press event on March 6, Const. Alex Berube, media relations officer for the West Shore RCMP, addressed a deadly shooting that occurred in Metchosin the night before. (Devon Bidal/News Staff)
VIDEO: One man shot dead in ‘targeted incident’ in Metchosin

Highway 14 reopens following multi-hour closure for investigation

Most Read