Monday, 20 November, 2017

Officials say scattered showers won't help BC wildfires, wind may fuel flame

There remain 22 wildfires of note across B.C. with 14 of those classified as interface fires There remain 22 wildfires of note across B.C. with 14 of those classified as interface fires. — image credit
Mae Harvey | 16 July, 2017, 01:30

Areas of Williams Lake, and around Ashcroft are under evacuation alerts.

According to the BC Wildfire Service, there are 2,991 firefighters and other personnel now fighting the fires including 363 from out-of-province, 1,020 contractors and there are 192 helicopters and planes supporting ground crews.

A complete and total ban on open fires is now in place in British Columbia, with the province having declared a state of emergency last week.

There are now 167 active fires across BC, and though none of the largest fires threatening homes in Ashcroft, Williams Lake, Little Fort, 100 Mile House and Quesnel are fully contained, Skrepnek says crews have made some progress. Controlled burns allow for the fuel to burn in a controlled setting before fires potentially move to the areas, due to wind.

"When it is this hot and dry and of course with these winds in the forecast, it just makes things all the more volatile in terms of even the use of off-road vehicles, the heat off the exhaust pipe or debris coming off that vehicle could be enough to start a fire".

An evacuation order was issued Saturday morning for the remote Clisbako area in the Cariboo region.

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One of the biggest issues for officials is the wind as some areas could see gusts of more than 50 kilometres an hour on Saturday. Officials there are saying the fire is still 20 per cent contained.

"Unfortunately, significant rain continues to elude the southern half of the province for the foreseeable future", Environment Canada said.

"That has the potential to really cause a lot of growth on these fires", Skrepnek said. The Loon Lake evacuation order affects 350 homes.

The BC Wildfire Service said it's taken steps to help ground crews fight some of the fires, by burning a safe perimeter around a 2,600-hectare blaze near 150 Mile House.

Officials are also asking the public to stay off four lakes in the Cariboo region, specifically Williams Lake, Watson Lake, Lac La Hache and Horse Lake, so that firefighting aircraft have room to pick up water.

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