B.C. Wildfires 2018: evacuation alerts expanded in northwest as crews battle new fires across province

Fires burning across B.C.'s northwest region prompted expanded evacuation orders and alerts Saturday morning as crews battled forty new wildfires elsewhere in the province.

Lightning a major factor in new fire starts

Ground crews, air support and equipment continue to work on the Alkali Lake wildfire near Telegraph, B.C. in the northwest of the province. (B.C. Wildfire Service)

Crews continued to do battle against a surge of new wildfires across the province, as thousands of residents in B.C.'s northwest are on alert for potential evacuation.

On Saturday morning, the Cariboo Regional District issued an expanded evacuation order for 900 properties in the northwest corner of the region. 

Emily Epp of the Cariboo Regional District said helicopter evacuations were needed for at least four families on Saturday when the wildfire cut off access to a forestry service road.

"It is a very rural and remote area so we estimate there's about 90 residents in that area," Epp said from the Cariboo Fire Centre in Williams Lake.

Evacuees have been sent to Prince George, which has set up an Emergency Response Centre as well as a website for arriving evacuees.

Another evacuation alert was issued for a large area an hour's drive west of Quesnel which affects around 2,000 residents. With an alert, residents must be prepared to leave the area quickly if necessary.

This is in addition to the 2,500 to 2,700 residents in west Quesnel who are already under an alert.

New fire starts

Ryan Turcot, a fire information officer with the B.C. Wildfire Service, said crews have responded to about 40 new fires Saturday — many of them lightning-caused. This brings the total number of fires burning across the province to just under 500.

With the expected shift to cooler weather and slight precipitation this weekend, Turcot says crews are paying close attention to lightning and strong winds.

"Again, looking ahead to next week, we're expecting mainly sunny and dry conditions across the province with temperatures being a little bit cooler than they have been," Turcot said.

"We do have just a little over a month of summer left ahead of us."

He said 68 per cent of the more than 1,600 wildfires that have started since April 1 have been due to lightning.

Additional fire information

  • Previous evacuations have been rescinded in relation to the Nanaimo Lakes fire burning 13 kilometres southwest of Nanaimo. The fire is considered 40 per cent contained.
  • An evacuation order has been issued for the Murray Lake area due to the Juliet Creek fire burning approximately 47 kilometres southwest of Merritt. The fire is 600 hectares in size.
  • The Mabel Creek wildfire, 6.5 kilometres east of Mabel Lake in B.C.'s Interior, has grown considerably in size joining up with several smaller fires. It is now 1,861 hectares in size.
  • The Blazed Creek wildfire, located 26 kilometres northwest of Creston also grew considerably due to recent weather conditions including strong winds. The fire is currently 500 hectares in size. The fire has closed Highway 3 from Highway 6 to Highway 21. There is a detour available via Highway 6 to Nelson and Highway 3A to Balfor, the Kootenay Lake ferry and Creston.
  • An evacuation alert for the communities of 70 Mile House and South Green Lake due to the Twin Creek wildfire.
  • Crews are still actively fighting the Alkali Lake fire near Telegraph in the province's northwest region. The South Stikine River fire has merged with this one and its combined size is 300 square kilometres.
  • Crews have shut down Highway 7 intermittently to access the High Creek wildfire near Agassiz. That fire, believed to be human-caused, is now 120 hectares in size.
  • All regional parks in Metro Vancouver are under an extreme fire danger rating. Campfires and barbecues are prohibited.
  • The campfire ban across most of the province remains due to unseasonably dry and hot conditions.

Wildfire map:

Evacuation orders and alerts:

With files from the Canadian Press, Jon Hernandez and Nicole Oud

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