Ice jam forces families to flee homes in B.C.'s Bulkley-Nechako District

Officials in B.C.'s Bulkley-Nechako District say some families have fled to stay with friends or relatives after access to their homes was cut off by a growing ice jam.

Officials have not posted evacuation order, but ask residents to be packed and ready to go

An ice jam along the Bulkley River has cut access to peoples' homes and caused some to flee and stay with friends or relatives. (Elsbeth Fielding)

Officials in B.C.'s Bulkley-Nechako District say some families have fled to stay with friends or relatives "until things settle down," after access to their homes was cut off by a growing ice jam. 

The ice jam along the Bulkley River near Smithers, B.C. continues to cause river levels to rise and flood nearby backyards and roads.

"They were being cut off, their access was being cut off," said Bill Miller, chair of the Regional District of Bulkley-Nechako. "Water has been rising, creeping up."

​The district has not issued an evacuation order for the roughly 20 homes that are impacted by the ice jam, but has asked those families to have their things packed and ready to go.

Those who have already left have done so voluntarily, Miller said.

Miller says other home-owners have been using pumps 24 hours a day to keep water out of basements and crawl spaces.

The ice jam — which occurs when water builds up behind a blockage of ice — began forming over the Christmas 2015 weekend and is roughly along a 300 metre stretch of the river.

The rapid thawing and freezing means a higher risk of flooding.

"We will really hope that it sorts itself out, that it breaks open," said Miller.

"That's the problem with ice jams ... but we're sure hoping that we get a break in the weather and this thing starts to recede."

With files from Kamil Karamali

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