Most of the people forced to leave their homes earlier this week near Houston, B.C. because of a raging wildfire are being allowed to go back today.

The evacuation order for the China Nose wildfire has been rescinded for more than 100 homes.

Highway 16 has also been reopened on news the fire has been 20 per cent contained.

However, all of those areas where evacuation orders were in effect remain on an evacuation alert.

Bulkley-Nechako Regional District Chair Bill Miller says it's good news."

"Everybody has breathed a great sigh of relief, he said. 

"I've had the opportunity to go in and congratulate our staff on a job well done on preparing everybody. Also I just walked out of the media fire centre office giving the wildfire management a great clap on the back for a job well done.​"

New, smaller evacuation order

The highway has reopened from 4 km east of Topley to 18 km west of Burns Lake.

  A new evacuation order is in effect for about 12 homes  said  Miller.

It includes the following areas:

  • south from 9840 Heading Creek forest service road, north to Gilmore Lake forest service road and Sunset forest service road intersection,
  • west to the Snow Mobile Cabin on Equity Mine Road,
  • east to and including Crow Creek Road beyond the train tracks,
  • east to 22387 and 22507, north including the entirety of the Rose Lake Cutoff Rd.
  • Including Day Lake Road, southern portions of the Forest Dale Canyon Road, northern portion of the Maxan Creek forest service road to the south west portion of the Decker-Maxan Rd.
  • Including Bulkley Lake, Day Lake, Elwin Lake and Maxan Lake.​

The size of the fire, burning 15 kilometres southeast of Houston, has been reduced slightly from 4,000 to 3,700 hectares since it was discovered Monday. 

China Nose fire

The China Nose fire as seen from about 30 km away in Topley, B.C. along Highway 16. (submitted by Mark Zagwyn)

  Ground crews on Thursday created containment lines to the north, west and east of the fire. Helicopters dropped buckets of water on Friday. 

The B.C. Wildfire Management Branch reported on Saturday that the strong winds forecast overnight for the area failed to materialize allowing crews to maintain their progress.  However, the situation is still volatile and could change.

The closure of Old Man Lake Provincial Park to all recreational uses by B.C. Parks remains in effect.

Reception centres for displaced residents have been set up at the College of New Caledonia in Burns Lake and at Houston's municipal office.

The Northwest Fire ​Centre has barred use of recreational areas around the fire —​ making McKilligan, Swan Lake, Heading Creek, Poisent Creek and Gilmore Lake forest service roads and portions of the Thompson Creek Forest Service Road north of Maxan Lake off-limits to anyone without written authorization.

Chelaslie Fire 

Meanwhile the Chelaslie River wildfire, burning near Entiako Provincial Park since early July, has grown to an estimated 107,651 hectares. Near the end of July, officials closed the park and issued an evacuation order. 

There are currently 186 fires burning in B.C., 11 of which are major wildires . Eight of them have either evacuation orders or alerts associated with them.  

B.C. has dealt with 500 fires so far this year according to provincial fire information officer Kevin Skrepnek.

Chelaslie River fire

As of Aug. 18, 2014, the Chelaslie River wildfire had spread across an estimated 113,876 hectares. (B.C. Wildfire Management Branch)

With files from the CBC's Stephanie Mercier