British Columbia·Photos

Here's what British Columbians are facing under a blanket of smoke and blazing wildfires

Dozens of evacuation orders and alerts are in effect in the north and central regions of B.C., impacting more than 20,000 people.

Province declares state of emergency

Williams Lake in B.C.'s central Interior on Tuesday morning. (Submitted by Matt Foley)

Nearly 600 fires are burning across British Columbia, covering the sky in flame-coloured haze and blanketing the air with smoke.

A provincial state of emergency has been declared.

There are hundreds of wildfires burning across B.C., including this one near the Pondosy Bay Wilderness Resort near Tweedsmuir. (Pondosy Bay Wilderness Resort)

Dozens of evacuation orders and alerts are in effect in the north and central regions, affecting more than 20,000 people.

Under a sky darkened by smoke from nearby wildfires, a driver waits for a ferry in northern B.C. (Andrew Kurjata/CBC)

In Burns Lake, in the central Interior, hotels are at zero vacancy, so anyone without a place to stay is being told to drive to Prince George, over 200 kilometres away.

A smoky 70 Mile House road on Tuesday. There were 23 active fires in the 100 Mile Fire Zone as of Tuesday. (Submitted by Gwen Balmer)

Fraser Lake Mayor Dwayne Lindstrom said Tuesday the smoky conditions and dark skies were unlike any he'd experienced in decades living in the village, some 130 kilometres west of Prince George. 

"It's probably one of the weirdest days I've ever had in my life," Lindstrom told Radio West guest host Audrey McKinnon.

Fraser Lake Mayor Dwayne Lindstrom says he's never seen skies darken from wildfires as they did Tuesday afternoon. (Andrew Kurjata/CBC)

The entire south side of nearby Francois Lake is being evacuated and roads back into the area are now closed.

Tracy Calogheros shot this photo from a cabin on an island in Francois Lake. The area is currently under evacuation order. (Tracy Calogheros/Facebook)

In areas across the province, the skies darkened in the early afternoon on Tuesday — so much so that street lights turned on and residents drove around with headlights on as smoke and ash choked out the light.

Fraser Lake at about 4 p.m. PT on Tuesday. Sunset isn't until 8:51, but it was already getting dark. (Andrew Kurjata/CBC)

Officials are asking British Columbians under evacuation orders to leave immediately, using identified routes that are not blocked by flames.

The entire south side of Francois Lake, B.C., is being evacuated and no one is allowed back across the lake. (Andrew Kurjata/CBC)

The smoky skies have prompted air quality advisories throughout the week in areas including Williams Lake and Quesnel, Metro Vancouver, Kamloops, North Okanagan and Victoria.

The view in Prince George on Tuesday evening around 6 p.m. (Submitted by Erica Lindsey)

More than 3,300 firefighters and contractors are actively engaged in fighting the blazes in all fire regions of the province and additional resources are being called in from other provinces and countries.

12-year-old Ava is packing her things as she prepares to leave North Bonaparte, where she can see the forest fires from her home. She says she's scared her family will 'lose everything.' (Submitted by Ava Wettstein )

B.C. RCMP were deployed to assist with wildfire impacts throughout the province on Wednesday, providing vehicles, supplies and additional officers to help man checkpoints and provide relief to local detachments.

RCMP resources from across the province are being deployed to assist communities most affected by the wildfires. (BC RCMP)

On Monday, the federal government announced it is sending aircraft and 200 troops to help fight the wildfires.

Some British Columbians, like Bulkley-Nechako regional district board chair Bill Miller, have expressed concerns about why the province took so long to request additional help. 

Bill Miller, the regional district board chair for the Interior's Bulkley-Nechako region, described the situation as 'eerie.' (Andrew Kurjata/CBC)

The Canadian Red Cross is urging all people living near active fires to regularly check information from their local authority and Emergency Management B.C.

Fire updates can be accessed on provincial Twitter accounts @BCGovFireInfo and @EmergencyInfoBC.

Vehicles drive through Fort Fraser in central B.C., Tuesday afternoon under apocalyptic skies. (Andrew Kurjata/CBC)

With files from Mike Laanela and Andrew Kurjata. 

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