Wildfires this summer caused slope instability in Zeballos, leading to an evacuation order that has displaced 21 people. Photo by David Gordon Koch/Campbell River Mirror

Risk of falling debris in Zeballos increased ‘tenfold’ following wildfires – geohazard report

Evacuation order that displaced 21 people still in effect

Evacuated homes located near the steep eastern hillsides of Zeballos are at a greater-than-ever risk of falling rocks and debris flows following this summer’s wildfires, according to a geohazard report released this week.

The situation has left residents like Alanna Janisse – whose family moved to the tiny coastal logging community earlier this year – in limbo. In June, they bought a house and two other properties that are now located in the evacuation zone.

“We were issued an evacuation order,” she said. “We had plans to move into the house over the winter, but that’s been on hold.”

Janisse, her husband and their two children – ages five and one – are now living in a rental property.

READ MORE: Evacuees say the BC Wildfire Service should have responded faster to Zeballos flare-up

“It’s unsettling, because it’s the unknown,” she said. “We purchased the property to live in… that’s kind of all up in the air.”

She spoke to the Mirror following the release of a technical report detailing risks to the community of about 100 people resulting from the summer’s wildfires.

Those wildfires led to a roughly tenfold increase in “debris flow and rock fall probability,” according to the 50-page report, prepared by the consulting firm BGC Engineering.

READ MORE: Zeballos evacuation order expanded due to danger of falling debris and slides

In September, heavy rainfall helped quench wildfires that engulfed some 128 hectares of land. But the risk of slope instability led the village to expand an evacuation order first issued in mid-August.

That evacuation order has displaced 21 people. It affects 27 lots, including 13 residential homes and one hotel, the Cedars Inn. The rest are vacant lots, except for two with temporary structures like RVs.

A state of emergency remains in effect for the village.

@davidgordonkoch
david.koch@campbellrivermirror.com

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