Evacuation orders, alerts issued for Interior, northern B.C. as wildfire service fights 5 fires of note
Peace River district also issued an evacuation order for area near Battleship Mountain in northeastern B.C.
The Squamish Lillooet Regional District (SLRD) issued an evacuation order Saturday afternoon due to "immediate danger to life safety" from the Downton Creek wildfire, burning about 18 kilometres south of Lillooet, B.C.
The district covers Lillooet, Pemberton, Whistler, Squamish and four electoral areas. As of 12:30 p.m., certain properties in Electoral Area B were ordered to be vacated, including the Cottonwood, Cinnamon, Gott and Roger recreation sites, and the Seton Ridge Recreation Trail.
District lots 2343, 4361 and 4360 were also included in the order.
Residents are asked to head north to Lillooet or south to Pemberton and to watch the SLRD website for updates.
The B.C. Wildfire Service (BCWS) also said it was responding to the Lower Arthur's Seat fire, 20 kilometres northeast of Lytton, shortly after 5:30 p.m.
It said the new fire is classified as out of control, suspected to be human-caused and is under investigation.
Air tankers responded quickly after the fire was reported, with helicopters and ground personnel en route Saturday evening, the wildfire service said.
Evacuation order issued in Peace River district
Evacuation orders were also issued by the Peace River Regional District and the District of Hudson's Hope for the area near Battleship Mountain in northeastern B.C.
All of the areas covered by the order are in Electoral Area E. An evacuation alert is also in place for the entire district of Hudson's Hope, which has also declared a local state of emergency.
Sustained winds and hot, dry conditions in the Peace region have been driving the growth of the Battleship Mountain wildfire, which the wildfire service described as "aggressive" on Friday.
The BCWS says the fire, one of two in the area upgraded to wildfires of note on Thursday, was headed in the direction of Hudson's Hope, about 368 kilometres north of Prince George.
A wildfire of note is one that is particularly visible or poses a threat to public safety.
"It is likely that activity will will pick up again [Saturday] afternoon once we do see winds kind of reach their peak, generally around 4 p.m.," said fire information officer Karley Desrosiers on Saturday morning.
"Smoky conditions are expected to continue for the next couple days up until probably Monday or Tuesday when it has a chance to clear."
Environment Canada has issued a special air quality statement for the eastern half of B.C. due to smoke from the fires.
The other wildfire, near Dinosaur Lake, is just five kilometres from B.C. Hydro's Peace Canyon Dam and the Hudson's Hope Suspension Bridge on Highway 29.
Firefighters established control lines around the perimeter of the fire Thursday evening and further growth is not expected.
Other fires of note
There are three other fires of note in B.C.: the Bearhole Lake fire is southeast of Tumbler Ridge, near the B.C.-Alberta border.
The Fat Dog Creek fire is burning near Lightning Lake in E.C. Manning Provincial Park, about 230 kilometres east of Vancouver, while the Heather Lake fire is burning in the same park, closer to the U.S. border.
Parks officials have issued an evacuation order for multiple trails and view points south of Highway 3 due to the Heather Lake fire, which originated across the U.S. border in the Okanogan-Wenatchee National Forest.
"Wildfire crews are actively monitoring and may be working in this area. In the event of changing wildfire conditions, visitors in this park may receive limited notice to evacuate," reads a notice on the B.C. Parks website.
Desrosiers says she expects the wildfire season to last into September due to unseasonably high temperatures and low relative humidity.
She says people travelling during the long weekend should heed local campfire bans, not park vehicles in areas with dry grass, and be sure to extinguish fires when they leave.
With files from Kate Partridge, Courtney Dickson, Akshay Kulkarni, Jordan Tucker and Josh Grant