Growing wildfires force more evacuations near Cranbrook, B.C.

Hundreds of properties have been evacuated, a popular campground has been emptied and a historic townsite full of wooden heritage buildings is on alert as two wildfires continue to grow near Cranbrook, B.C.

Evacuation orders also expanded in the Cariboo region

Smoke billows from a wildfire burning near Moyie Lake, south of Cranbrook B.C. (Marise Auffray)

Hundreds of properties have been evacuated, a popular campground emptied and a historic townsite full of wooden heritage buildings is on alert as two wildfires continue to grow near Cranbrook, B.C.

An evacuation order issued early Saturday afternoon covers 223 properties on the southern portion of Moyie Lake, including the Moyie townsite and Eagles Nest RV park.

Residents of another 174 homes and recreational properties on the northern end of Moyie Lake were ordered to leave on Friday. That order includes Moyie Lake Provincial Park, an area that features 111 campsites and a beach.

Both orders come in response to the spreading Lamb Creek wildfire.

A wildfire burns near Moyie Lake in East Kootenay. (Moyie Marine)

"The Lamb Creek Fire is challenging fire suppression efforts and is once again very active today," Loree Duczek of the Regional District of East Kootenay said in a press release.

"Our first priority is public safety. These decisions are not made lightly and everyone within the evacuation order area needs to leave immediately."

That 220-hectare blaze is burning just 18 kilometres to the southwest of Cranbrook, and firefighting efforts forced the temporary closure Friday of the Canadian Rockies International Airport.

Alert for heritage town

Meanwhile, a second fire is burning out of control about 14 kilometres northeast of Cranbook. The St. Mary's River fire was last estimated at 250 hectares.

An evacuation alert related to that fire was issued late Friday for Fort Steele Heritage Town and the area surrounding it. The town is a gold rush-era historic site filled with restored wooden structures dating back more than a century.

Fort Steele Heritage Town was placed on evacuation alert Friday. (Fort Steele Heritage Town )

The operators of the heritage town wrote in a Facebook post that smoky conditions have led them to cancel programming, street theatre and wagon and train rides for Saturday.

They told CBC News there is no immediate danger from the fire, and have been advised that the B.C. Wildfire Service will contact them immediately if that changes.

Cariboo evacuation orders expanded

The wildfire service says hot, dry conditions this weekend could result in increased fire activity, and people are being urged to stay out of the backcountry in the Cariboo, Kamloops and southeast fire centres.

Two evacuation orders in the Cariboo region have recently been expanded because of wildfires.

They include an order for the area south of Highway 24 between Sheridan and Watch Lakes, as well as an area south of Canim Lake, 36 kilometres northeast of 100 Mile House.

With files from the Canadian Press