B.C. wildfire roundup: new evacuation orders and alerts

32 new wildfires broke out Thursday bringing the total number of fires burning in B.C. to more than 150. Of those, 16 are deemed significant wildfires prompting evacuation orders and alerts.

32 new fires break out on Thursday including in Kitimat, fire intesifies on Apex Mountain near Penticton

Smoke rises from the Smith Creek fire in West Kelowna (submitted by Bruce Thompson)

32 new wildfires broke out Thursday bringing the total number of fires burning in B.C. to more than 150. Of those, 16 are deemed significant wildfires prompting evacuation orders and alerts.

The newest evacuation order is for the municipality of West Kelowna due to the rapidly spreading Smith Creek fire.

2,500 residents were ordered out of their homes Thursday in West Kelowna as firefighters battled to keep the fire from spreading into their neighbourhood.

An earlier order for Hudson's Hope, which saw the entire community evacuated to Fort St. John, was lifted a day later as officials determined there was no immediate risk to lives or property, but residents there remain on evacuation alert.

New fire in Kitimat

Meanwhile a new fire was reported around 7 p.m. PT Thursday in Kitimat.

Chief Administrative Officer Ron Poole says the two hectare fire was located about 2 kilometres south of Kitimat near the Kitimat River.

A two hectare fire burning just two kilometres from Kitimat was contained late Thursday. (submitted by Kenneth Gummeson)

B.C. Forestry air tankers were already attacking it and Poole says they are awaiting the arrival of a second helicopter from Smithers.

Harrison Lake Fire

A helicopter loads up a bucket of water as crews try to keep a fire away from cabins near Harrison Lake.

Helicopter crews continue to fight a three hectare fire west of Harrison Lake on the south side of the river.

The aerial water drops are being hampered by power nearby power lines and access to the river is currently restricted.

The fire is at the base of a steep slope and officials believe it was human-caused.

Access to the Harrison River is restricted and fire is at the base of a steep slope. Significant smoke from this fire which officials say was caused by humans.

Mount McAllister Fire

The Peace River Regional District has also ordered an evacuation alert for residents in the community of Moberly Lake and surrounding area.

A photo of the Mount McAllister wildfire burning in the Klin-Se-Za protected area, in the northeastern region of B.C. on Tuesday. (Wildfire Management Branch)

The alert extends to the northernmost point of Boucher Lake Road, directly west to the Klin-Se-Za protected area, north along Carbon Creek to the southern edge of Williston Lake directly east to the boundary of Hudson's Hope

The Mount McAllister fire,which is burning out of control l00 kilometres southwest of Fort St. John and 56 kilometres west of Chetwynd, is believed to have been sparked by lightning.

It has doubled in size to 20,000 hectares.

Apex Mountain wildfire progress

The Apex Mountain fire burning in the Okanagan north of Keremeos, B.C., more than doubled in size Thursday to 313 hectares.

Residents there are on evacuation alert, but fire crews reported the fire 50 per cent contained and said good progress had been made containing the south end of the fire closest to homes.

Maka-Murray evacuation order

The Thompson-Nicola Regional District issued an evacuation order in an area of the southern Nicola Valley along the Coquihalla Highway.

The evacuation order applies to approximately 30 to 35 properties in an area around Murray Lake. Residents leaving the area are being advised to shut off power and propane at their properties.

The 400 hectare Maka-Murray fire fire, which was sparked by lightning, is burning between Hope and Merritt, around 238 kilometres northeast of Vancouver.

Firefighters, airtankers and helicopters have been battling the fire since it was discovered on Monday.

In response to the high fire risk, the Regional District of Okanagan-Similkameen issued a temporary fire ban, beginning today, applying to all open burning, including campfires and fireworks.

Jura evacuation alert

The Regional District of Okanagan Similkameen issued an evacuation alert Wednesday evening for a number of homes and properties near the Jura fire, which was discovered earlier in the day, burning southeast of Missezula Lake between Summerland and Princeton.

The fire was approximately 150 hectares just before 10 p.m. PT Thursday.

An evacuation order, should it be issued, and more information on alerts will be published on the regional district's website.

Chelaslie River wildfire spreading

Meanwhile, in B.C.'s northwest, the Regional District of Bulkley-Nechako has declared a state of local emergency for the François/Ootsa Lake Rural and Fraser Lake Rural areas, where a wildfire in Chelaslie Arm grows to 25,000 hectares.

An evacuation order for Tetachuck Lake and Chelaslie River has also been expanded, through Uchu Reach to Intata Reach on Natalkuz Lake to the south side of Chelaslie.

An evacuation alert was also issued Wednesday for Intata Reach at the confluence of Uchu Reach, at the southern and eastern borders of the Regional District of Bulkley-Nechako Electoral Area ‘E’ to Natalkuz-500 Road in the north and to the Kluskus Forest Service Road.

The Chelaslie Arm wildfire was burning across 13,000 hectares on Tuesday, some 200 kilometres from Prince George, B.C. (Erik Hanson)

On Monday, BC Parks closed nearby Entiako Provincial Park and issued an evacuation order for all cabin owners and all recreational users within the park.

The Chelaslie Arm wildfire, which is burning some 200 kilometres southwest of Prince George, was discovered last Tuesday and is believed to have been caused by lightning.

Campfire bans for coast and Cariboo

On B.C.'s south coast, the fire risk is high to extreme and a campfire ban has been issued throughout B.C's South Coast and the entire Kamloops Fire Centre.

The Cariboo Fire Centre has expanded its campfire ban, also beginning Wednesday, to cover the entire area.

This photo taken on July 9 shows the Euchiniko Lakes fire burning across 410 hectares between the Prince George and Cariboo fire regions. (B.C. Wildfire Management Branch)

The ban applies to open fires of any size, fires with a burn registration number, industrial burning, fireworks, tiki torches, sky lanterns and burning barrels.

The ban does not apply to stoves or portable campfire apparatus that use gas, propane or briquettes, as long as the height of the flame is less than 15 centimetres.

In the Cariboo Regional District, the Euchiniko Lakes wildfire, also believed to have been sparked by lightning, has grown to cover 2,800 hectares since it was discovered last Tuesday.

As of Tuesday, 120 firefighters were trying to control the blaze, with six helicopters continuing to bucket the fire to support ground crews.

A local state of emergency was declared in the district and an evacuation order issued for the Euchiniko Lakes Ranch on Sunday.

Evacuation ordered in Alberta

Last week, three oil and gas worker camps were evacuated due to concerns over the spreading Red Deer Creek wildfire, which is now estimated to cover 33,400 hectares on Wednesday.

The wildfire is within 10 kilometres of the Alberta border, prompting the Municipal District of Greenview to issue an evacuation order.

According to B.C.'s Wildfire Management Branch, 118 firefighters working around the clock have made great progress on the fire and are continuing to build a fireline.

These are the 16 wildfires listed on the B.C. Wildfire Management Branch's "wildfires of note" list as of Thursday: up from 12 Wednesday.

In the Prince George fire centre:

  • 22 km Tenakihi.
  • Euchiniko Lakes.
  • ​Forres Mountain fire.
  • Mount McAllister fire.
  • Mugaha fire.
  • Red Deer Creek fire.
  • Salmon Lake fire.
  • Valley south of Morfee Lake.

In the Kamloops fire centre:

  • Apex Mountain. 
  • Boot Hill
  • Jura
  • Maka-Murray.
  • Smith Creek

In the Cariboo fire centre:

  • Soda Creek.

In the Northwest fire centre:

  • Chelaslie River

Dozens of other wildfires are also burning across the province and the Wildfire Management Branch has requested the assistance of more than 70 out-of-province personnel to help fight the fires.

The Wildfire Management Branch says these personnel are providing command and co-ordination support to fire crews on the ground, but there are currently no out-of-province firefighters in B.C.