File photo/Similkameen Spotlight

Princeton police get reinforcements

“If you are going to sneak back to your house, please leave the name of your dentist with someone so we can identify what is left of you if something goes wrong.”

Twelve additional RCMP officers have been assigned to the Princeton detachment to assist with controlling barricades and patrolling the evacuation areas.

The move brings the detachment’s compliment to 21.

Commander and sergeant Barry Kennedy said Thursday that contrary to the local rumor mill there have been no reported cases of looting, or other trouble in the evacuated areas.

While 350 homes are under evacuation order, Kennedy said some residents have chosen to stay on their properties.

Evacuation orders allow for this, he said, however people must agree to remain on their own land.

“A lot of them want to protect their own properties and I think some feel that if the fire gets too close they can just leave,” said Kennedy.

It is not a decision without risk, he added.

“They issue the evacuation orders with the big picture in mind. They are concerned about escape routes, air temperature and air quality. Today it may seem fine but you could wake up tomorrow morning and things might be drastically different and it’s too late.”

Kennedy said some people who stay behind may feel they are a safe distance from the fire, while not realizing their escape route is impassable. In those cases a rescue by helicopter might not be an option, depending on smoke conditions.

Police are aware that other property owners are “sneaking back” to their homes using logging roads or trails.

Those residents are in even more danger, he said, as rescue teams would not know they are there and in need of help.

“If you are going to sneak back to your house, please leave the name of your dentist with someone so we can identify what is left of you if something goes wrong.”

According to Kennedy regular calls for police service in the area are at normal levels and are receiving response as usual.

The detachment has gotten complaints regarding the evacuation and roadblocks, he added.

“It is not a police decision to close the roads.”

Kennedy said morale at the detachment is good, despite the state of emergency, increased workload and the fact that one officer has already been evacuated from his home.

“The forestry people and our town fire department are doing a great job…Yes it is scary but these people are so well trained and they are experts. We are confident they are going to get this fire under control.”

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