Fire prompts evacuation alert near B.C. park

Residents who live near Manning Provincial Park in the B.C. Interior have been placed on evacuation alert as a forest fire creeps closer to the edges of the park.

Residents who live near Manning Provincial Park in the B.C.Interior wereplaced on evacuation alert late Tuesday as an out-of-control fire crept closer to the edges of the park.

B.C. fire officials saidTuesday the Tatoosh fire is burning out of control and continues to expand in size aftercrossing the American border into B.C. from Washington State on the weekend.

The evacuation alert covers residents of the communities of Eastgate, Pasayten River Valley and Manning Park,said Mary Ann Leach, spokesperson for the Kamloops Fire Centre.

"It's just an alert,not an order,to get people ready … in case they do have to leave on short notice," she told the Canadian Press.

RCMP handed out notices of the evacuation alert door to door. Officials said the alert is to put local residents at ease and is not a result of fire conditions deteriorating.

Early Wednesday, officials usedinfrared photography by the U.S. military toestimatethat the fire, burning about 200 kilometres east of Vancouver, coversmore than 23square kilometres.

"The perimeter remains at the southeastern Boundary of Manning Park just barely into the park itself. The furthest northern point of the fire is on the east side of the Pasayton River,"said fire information officer Jeff Moore.

The community of Eastgate is home to about 180 residents, but it is not known how many peopleare affected by the evacuation alert.

The fire started after a lightning strike in Washington state on Aug. 22 and crossed the border over the weekend as a six-kilometre-wide wall of flame.

Late Tuesday, thick smoke continuedto make firefighting efforts difficult, to hamper attempts to assess the fire and to make conditions for firefighters unsafe. The fire did not threaten any homes or buildings as of that time.

Moore said on Tuesday the fire was not yet contained in any way.

Winds have blown smoke from the fire into Eastgate and nearby Princeton. Officials have set up an emergency operations centre in Princeton Hospital to answer any questions about smoke from local residents.

Meanwhile, firefighters continued to monitor the Tripod Complex fire about two kilometres south of the border, which is estimated to cover about 66,000hectares in north central Washington state and is more than half contained. It wasstarted on July 24 by lightning.

The Tripod Complex fire has also been sending a steady stream of smoke and ash into Canada.

With files from the Canadian Press