Several evacuation orders in the B.C. Interior issued over the weekend have been downgraded to alerts, allowing some Cariboo residents to return home.

The Cariboo Regional District and Canim Lake Indian Band announced today that residents are allowed to return to the Canim Lake and Hawkins Lake areas thanks to successful firefighting efforts.

CRD Chair Al Richmond said the Canim Lake fire, which was sparked by lightning on Saturday, caught residents by surprise.

"It was a very fast moving fire and stayed mostly on the ridge," he said, adding that crews managed to surround the fires and protect all threatened properties.

"The fires at Canim Lake and Hawkins Lake were because of lightning strikes, and so those fires came very quickly. Those areas were quite a distance from any alert or order at that time. So it was a bit of surprise to have that happen to those folks there," he said.

"I think everyone was being very cautious and at the time the fires happened, it was just dark enough that they could actually see the flames, and so it moved very quickly."

Weather remains unpredictable

Richmond said that despite the lightning strikes and windy conditions, conditions over the weekend were not as poor as expected.

"We got a little more rain in some areas than anticipated, and a little less wind than anticipated. The rain helped temper the fires a little," he said. 

"This morning the smoke has moved in, it's quite heavy, it's a good indication that it'll help suppress the heat, and help keep the fires a little less active than they would be if we had a clear day."

"Folks have a tendency to get a little relaxed when they see a clear, sunny day, when that's quite often when the fires are making their moves and they're quite active."