Returning evacuees urged to take health precautions

By Doug Collins/The Canadian Press
July 23, 2017 - 8:06am

100 MILE HOUSE —   Several thousand people displaced by wildfires were given the go-ahead yesterday to return home.

     Evacuation orders were lifted for the 100 Mile House and Princeton areas as well as a rural area southwest of Quesnel.

     Officials say residents are returning to an area that has been ``profoundly affected'' by wildfire and services such as grocery stores and heath care may be limited for some time.

     An evacuation alert will remain in place, meaning residents will have to be prepared to leave again at a moment's notice if fires become a hazard. 

And now that the residents in 100 Mile are returning, Interior Health has issued some advisories for residents In particular, water contamination could be a problem.

If you're on a municipal system, they should be able to give you information regarding the safety of the water,

If you're on a smaller system, you need to make sure it's been tested before you use it. Until then, use bottled water.

If your fridge or freezer have been without power, the food may well be contaminated. Septic systems, pools and hot tubs could all be affected. 

As well, Interior Health advises that the 100 Mile House Hospital emergency department is now open 24/7 for urgent patient care. Other hospital services are still closed. 


Details of both Interior Health releases below:


Information Bulletin

For Immediate Release  |  July 22, 2017

100 Mile House – Food and water safety information for evacuees returning after a fire

Now that officials have determined it’s safe for residents of 100 Mile House and area to return to their homes, there are important tips they should be aware of in regards to health and safety.

Power outages and fire retardants may have affected the quality of your water and the safety of your food. The impact on you and your family will vary according to your situation but all evacuees are advised to take steps to ensure your food and water is safe. Photographs may be useful to document damage for insurance purposes – take photos prior to moving anything or throwing anything damaged away. 

Drinking water quality

For residents who are on a community water system:

Questions about the quality of drinking water should be directed to the local water supplier (e.g. municipality, utility provider, etc.). These suppliers are best able to assess how their systems have been affected and whether there is any impact on the quality of drinking water.

If you cannot reach your water supplier and are unsure if your water has been impacted, it is recommended that you use an alternate source (bottled water).

Community water systems where fire retardant was used in their watershed area will have increased monitoring for changes in water quality.  Public notifications will be issued if there is some level of risk or uncertainty associated with drinking water use.

For residents on smaller systems or individual wells that suspect that their water supply has been affected by the fire: 

An alternative source of drinking water should be used until the water source can be assessed or tested.

You may need to evaluate the quality of tap water and find alternate source, such as bottled water until you water supply has been confirmed to be safe.

Private surface and ground water sources affected by fire retardant application should be tested to ensure compliance with the Guidelines for Canadian Drinking Water Quality. Sample bottles can be provided by water testing laboratories. For information on having your private water source tested, please refer to the list of Provincial Health Officer Approved Drinking Water Testing Laboratories:

or check your telephone directory’s yellow pages under Laboratories – Analytical.

Food Safety

If the power has been out in your home or if you have been evacuated for a prolonged period (more than 5 days), the food in your fridge or freezer may no longer be safe to eat. Also, food can be damaged by heat, smoke, ash, soot, water and possible chemical residues. The following tips will help you determine if food has been affected.  

The main concerns are power outages that affect temperature control of food. You can monitor temperatures using thermometers:

Refrigerated foods must be under 4 degrees Celsius and frozen food must be at -18 degrees Celsius or less.

A full chest freezer will keep food frozen for up to 2 days
A half-full chest freezer will keep food frozen for up to 1 day
A cooler or fridge will keep food cold for 4 hours.

If you don’t have a thermometer or if you don’t know how long your fridge or freezer was without power, check the products in the fridge for spoilage and souring.  Look for:

Milk and other dairy products that have spoiled/become sour. Spoiled dairy products are good indicator that the fridge has been off and all food should be discarded.

Ice cream that has thawed and refrozen is a good indicator that the freezer has been off.
Fish product that smells bad upon thawing is also a sign that food in your freezer has thawed and refrozen.
Frozen foods that have thawed must be discarded as they may no longer be safe to eat. Once thawed, food should not be refrozen.
Food in the freezer that has (or may have) reached 4 degrees Celsius or warmer should be discarded and must not be refrozen.
Clean and disinfect your fridge or freezer once you have discarded the spoiled food.

*Remember, if in doubt - throw it out.  Do not take any chances with the safety of your food.

Clean and disinfect any intact cans of food before opening to make sure the contents are not contaminated.

If there has been an extended power outage, you may wish to contact your insurance provider to discuss what losses are covered. Make a list of items discarded and photograph those items (if possible) for insurance purposes.

Additionally, if you are concerned about the safety of your refrigerator, cooler or freezer, you may need to replace it. If you choose to replace your appliance, photograph its outside and inside for use in speaking with your insurance provider. Individuals should also contact their local government or landfill regarding proper fridge disposal.

Septic systems

During fires, some components of septic systems may be damaged. If your property was directly impacted by fire your septic system should be assessed by a Registered Onsite Wastewater Practitioner (ROWP). To find an ROWP in your area:

Pools and hot tubs

Power outages will also cause the circulation and treatment systems of pools and hot tubs to stop working. Private pool owners should ensure adequate disinfection (chlorine levels) and circulation prior to using the pool. Commercial pools may be closed temporarily as operators rebalance their chemicals. 


For more information on health and safety considerations and tips for cleanup view our document After a Fire – Returning Home on the Interior Health Emergency Preparedness webpage.


To contact an environmental health officer for questions regarding food and water safety please call 1-855-744-6328 option 1.


Information Bulletin

For Immediate Release  |  July 22, 2017

Info Bulletin – 100 Mile emergency department is open

100 MILE HOUSE – The 100 Mile District General Hospital emergency department is now open for 24/7 urgent patient care as an evacuation order for the community has been lifted.

Other hospital services (including acute inpatient beds, outpatient lab and diagnostic imaging, scheduled ambulatory daycare procedures, oncology, and hospital-based clinics) will remain closed at this time. Individuals requiring ongoing hospital-based care may be transferred to alternate facilities.

Interior Health (IH) continues planning for the staged resumption of other regular services at 100 Mile District General Hospital, the return of residents to Mill Site Lodge and Fischer Place residential care sites, and the return of assisted living clients to Carefree Manor (an IH contracted provider).

Decisions regarding the return of vulnerable individuals – including residential care clients, hospital patients, oncology (chemotherapy) patients, and individuals with chronic heart, lung and significant respiratory conditions – will be based on the lifting of any remaining alerts, local air quality, and wildfire activity in the region.

IH encourages individuals to contact their family physician’s office directly for information on hours of operation during this re-entry phase.

Wherever possible, IH staff has remained in contact with Home Support, Home Health and Mental Health Substance Use (MHSU) clients from the 100 Mile area during the evacuations. IH will support access to services locally as clients return to the community. Clients should note the following:

For urgent needs over the weekend, MHSU clients should call 250-395-7623 between

8 a.m. and 8 p.m. to speak to an MHSU nurse or visit the emergency department.

Home Support and Home Health clients who have urgent care needs over the weekend can call the Home Health on-call nurse at 250-395-0618.
MHSU and Home Support and Home Health staff will return to the South Cariboo Health Centre on Monday, July 24. Clients or families can call the health unit at 250-395-7676 to discuss care needs.

100 Mile House District General Hospital was closed on July 9 due to an evacuation order related to local wildfire activity. IH evacuated acute care patients from 100 Mile District General Hospital, residents from Mill Site Lodge and Fischer Place, and assisted living clients from Carefree Manor on July 7, as a precautionary measure prior to the evacuation order.

IH will continue to update residents on the status of facilities and health services in 100 Mile House. Please visit our Major Events page on the IH website for updates and further information related to the current wildfire situation.

IH’s priority in re-opening services in 100 Mile is the safety and security of patients, residents, clients and the staff supporting their care. We appreciate the public’s understanding and patience as we work to restore local health services during this challenging time.



Area restriction order rescinded for parts of Cariboo