British Columbia

Firefighters battle B.C. wildfire, but evacuation order rescinded

The evacuation order has been rescinded for about 50 homes living near a wildfire in B.C.'s Thompson River Valley.

The evacuation order has been rescinded for about 50 homes near a wildfire in B.C.'s Thompson River Valley.

The order was issued Sunday around the perimeter of the Spatsum Creek fire, about 10 kilometres south of Ashcroft, in the Thompson-Nicola Regional District.

Since Saturday, the fire has more than doubled in size to 1,400 hectares.

Firefighters will continue to work through the night battling the wildfire, but the emergency operations centre for Thompson-Nicola Regional District announced Monday evening that imminent danger has diminished.

Officials say an evacuation alert is still in place and an order to evacuate could be reissued if conditions worsen.

Sandra Gaspard, one of the many people forced to leave, said the fire had been burning as close as a kilometre away from her home Sunday night.

"It looked like things were kind of taming down, but our winds are just crazy. So, once that wind picked up, it actually caused the fire to jump a few guards and actually start to come towards the residences of most of the people up in that area, and actually turn and go up north," she said.

"There were three more homes up there that got evacuated immediately. The ashes were landing on the vehicles and everything."

Gaspard says the whole community of Cache Creek, where the emergency support services centre has been set up, has been very helpful in offering discounted hotels and in lending horse trailers to help people move their personal belongings.  

Wind fanned flames, spread fire

Kayla Pepper, fire information officer at the Kamloops Fire Centre, said around 110 firefighters were working over the weekend on the wildfire and they were helped by air support.

"Helicopters were dropping water around the fire to cool down hotspots that are outside the fire perimeter and they're also working to keep our crews safe on the ground," she said.

The Spatsum Creek wildfire, shown in this photo taken Sunday, May 12, has been burning for over a week. (B.C. Forest Fire Info/Facebook) (CBC)

But despite their efforts, the fire grew.

On Saturday, high winds fed the flames into treetops, creating plumes of smoke and quickly spreading, doubling the fire in size to 1,100 hectares on Sunday. By Monday morning, the wildfire had grown to 1,400 hectares.

Pepper says the terrain is very dry after some unseasonably warm temperatures.

"They're definitely August-like conditions out there."

Evacuations in Alberta

Wildfires have also forced evacuations in two Alberta communities.

Two separate fires are burning within a few kilometres of the communities of Nordegg, 200 kilometres southwest of Edmonton, and Lodgepole, about 50 kilometres away from Drayton Valley.

The fire near Nordegg has been burning for several days with between 40 and 250 residents on a one-hour evacuation notice since Thursday. An emergency evacuation alert was also issued for the 200 residents of Lodgepole, and the main highway into town was closed to keep people from going back in.

Last week, a provincial official said conditions in some areas were similar to May 2011, when flames roared through the town of Slave Lake, destroying hundreds of homes and forcing thousands of people to flee. The wildfire caused an estimated $1 billion in damage, including firefighting and relief costs.

With files from the CBC's Luke Brocki