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Central BC wildfire prompts evacuation order of about 3,000 people

Last Updated Jul 7, 2017 at 4:50 pm PST

A massive wildfire burning near 100 Mile House in the Cariboo Region. (Courtesy BC Wildfire Service)
Summary

The cause of the fire is still under investigation

Within hours on Thursday the blaze grew from two hectares to 500 hectares, now to 1,200

100 MILE HOUSE (NEWS 1130) – A raging wildfire near 100 Mile House in the southern Cariboo region of our province has been spreading fast forcing a number of people out of their homes and putting more on evacuation alert.

It is now pegged at 1,500 hectares in size. As many as 3,000 homeowners have been told to evacuate their properties in central BC as the wind-fanned wildfire threatens their properties.

Cariboo Regional District Chair Al Richmond says 1,800 properties previously under evacuation alert are now under orders to be cleared out.

“We have flaggers at the entrances to direct traffic, and we’ve also just extended the evacuation order to the far end of Lac la Hache to Wright Station Road on the west side… and put the town of Lac la Hache under an evacuation alert. We have about 2124 under order and about 607 under alert.We have about 2124 under order and about 607 under alert.”

Fire Information Officer Kevin Skrepnek says it doesn’t look like the fire is going to let up anytime soon. “We are still seeing continued, and unfortunately, aggressive growth on the Gustafsen fire. Given the conditions we’re seeing out there, it sounds like there is potentially some wind in the forecast, we are certainly expecting another challenging day today.”

The fire was sparked yesterday and as of last night it had grown quickly from two to 500 hectares. The challenge crews are facing is all the smoke the fire is generating and how it’s hampering their efforts.

“We are just getting as many resources and personnel in there as we can to try and stem its growth,” says Skrepnek. “Given the conditions we’re seeing out there, it sounds like there’s potentially some wind in the forecast. We are certainly expecting another challenging day.”

The fire is just west of 100 Mile House and RCMP officers are knocking on doors to make sure people are getting out safely.

Dave Cherniwchan lives in 108 Mile Ranch and says it is tense for many living in the area. “People who are starting to get ash falling in their yards. They have a little bit of a view. Ranchers are scrambling to get their animals to safe areas.”

He adds the fire grew very fast through yesterday afternoon and evening. “A lot of people thought it was just the mill because the mill is usually pumping out some sort of smoke.”

BC WILDFIRE RESOURCES

  • 120 firefighters
  • Six helicopters
  •  15 heavy equipment
  •  25-person Incident Management Team and support staff, 4 helicopters, airtankers, and 15 pieces of heavy equipment are on site

The cause of the fire is still under investigation, but the BC Wildfire Service says it hasn’t had any reports of lightning — meaning the fire was likely sparked by people.

The Spruce Hill Resort and Spa in nearby 108 Mile Ranch is seeing a spike in hotel bookings, mainly from firefighters. “It has made us quite busy. We’re hosting most of the fire crew at the resort, so it has been pretty bustling, busy here,” says General Manager Len Doucette. “They’re working on shift work so some of them come in at 8 a.m. and just go straight to bed. It’s great to see how hard these guys are working.”

Doucette figures there are about 25 firefighters staying at the hotel.