At least 41 Cariboo homes have been destroyed by the wildfires burning through the region.

Cariboo Regional District chair Al Richmond says district staff are going into areas hit by fires to assess damages whenever it's safe.

He says the current number of homes lost only reflects what they have been able to find so far.

"As we go into areas, we don't know what to expect," he said. "I believe it's quite likely the number will still go up."

District spokesperson Emily Epp says staff aim to be respectful in cataloguing destroyed homes and are attempting to notify the property owners before releasing anything publicly.

Williams Lake in holding pattern

Williams Lake officials said on Wednesday that residents of the evacuated city should not expect an immediate return.

The city and surrounding areas, which may have as many as 24,000 residents, were placed under evacuation order Saturday.

Chief administrative officer Milo MacDonald says city staff are monitoring the situation in town carefully and are looking for the earliest possible time for residents to return home.

"That's still a little ways off based on the risk profile," he said. "But we're getting a lot closer to dealing with some of the logistics."

Mayor Walt Cobb says the ultimate goal is to make the eventual return to the city "as safe as can be."