Wildfires spark evacuation order for dozens of homes, state of emergency near Fort St. John
Two wildfires in northern B.C. merged Thursday night, state of emergency declared
An evacuation order has been issued for about 45 homes near the Alaska Highway in northeastern British Columbia because of wildfires in the area.
A fire information officer with the Peace River Regional District says the order is in effect for the Mile 80 area of the Alaska Highway, near Stoddard Road, and the Shepherds Inn area.
Anyone in those areas must leave immediately and register at the North Peace Arena reception centre in Fort St John.
There are also several evacuation alerts in the area — meaning residents should be prepared to leave on short notice.
State of emergency
British Columbia's Peace River Regional District has declared a state of emergency due to aggressive wildfires near Fort St. John.
The state of emergency was issued for the Electoral Area B region, an 86,000 square kilometre area that encompasses several towns and First Nations reserves in northeastern B.C.
Two fires merge
On Thursday, a fire that broke out the day before in the Mile 80 area on the Alaska highway merged with the much larger 9,500 hectare Beatton Airport Road fire that has been burning for more than two weeks.
The provincial government says 106 firefighters and five helicopters are working to contain the fire, with the support of air tankers.
There are 40 active fires burning in northern B.C., most of them in the Peace River Regional District, as of Friday morning.
Alaska highway travel advisory
The Alaska Highway has partially reopened following a temporary closure Thursday afternoon, but a travel advisory is in effect because of nearby wildfires in northeastern B.C.
DriveBC says smoke is causing reduced visibility on the four-kilometre stretch of highway about 45 kilometres north of Fort St John. Drivers are being urged to proceed carefully.
The Peace River Regional District says piloted traffic is allowed through and traffic controls are in place.
The B.C. Wildfire Service said the situation is likely to change throughout the night and the highway could close again on short notice.
The Beatton River Airport 151 Road is still closed, said the regional district, but the Aitken Creek Road has been reopened.
Highway 37 is also open to connect B.C. to Yukon and Alaska.
With files from Betsy Trumpener, Stephanie Mercier