Firefighters working on the Tyaughton Lake forest fire west of Lillooet, B.C., successfully completed a controlled burn on Monday, bringing 70 per cent of the fire under control, but winds continue to pose a challenge for crews.
Officials said the fire in the southwest mountains of B.C. remains at 8,000 hectares in size, but the controlled burn successfully reduced the volume of fuel within the fireguards to the south of Marshall Creek and Marshall Lake.
On Monday the evacuation order for areas of Tyaughton Lake, Gun Creek Road and Mud Creek was downgraded to evacuation alert status, allowing some residents to return. These areas, along with Gold Bridge and Bralorne, will remain on evacuation alert, and should conditions change, an evacuation order may be reissued, said officials.
An evacuation order still remains in effect for the Marshall Lake, Liza Lake and Carol Lake areas. It is unclear how many people are affected by the order. The fire has been burning since May 29.
Meanwhile, in northern B.C. about 15 people in the communities of Fireside, Coal River and Muddy River Indian Reserve 1 are still affected by an evacuation alert for the Smith River fire. Officials said the priorities for firefighters there are to keep the Alaska Highway open and keep the fire away from houses and other structures by setting up containment lines.
Police powerless to enforce evacuation orders
RCMP reported that seven people stayed behind when the evacuation order was in effect for the Tyaughton Lake area, and that police and fire officials have no power to enforce evacuation orders if people refuse to leave.
Cpl. Dan Moskaluk said all police can do when people refuse to leave is get what he called "tombstone information," such as next of kin and the name of their dentist in case they are burned in the fire.
In Australia earlier this year, 210 people were killed when they were caught by raging wildfires. Most of them were in their vehicles when they died.