VANCOUVER (NEWS 1130) – People around Vanderhoof and Fort St. James are being told to get ready to leave at a moment’s notice after an expanded evacuation alert was issued yesterday because of a nearby wildfire.
The 300 km² fire is about 35km away from the western border of Fort St. James, and about 30km from the northwestern edge of Vanderhoof.
Many homes are under evacuation alert issued by the Bulkley-Nechako Regional District, while others are under an evacuation order. District board chair Bill Miller said last week was tough, and he expects this one will be much the same.
“Whereas parts of the B.C. Southern Interior did receive some much-needed rain over the weekend, the same can’t be said of the tinder dry Central Interior and neighbouring districts,” said NEWS 1130 meteorologist Russ Lacate.
“That’s where those major wildfires in the vicinity of Vanderhoof and Fort St. James continue to shroud the districts in persistent smoke. We have got some minor improvements on the forecast front, a few days away. It’s still hot, dry and smoky today and tomorrow for the Central Interior, but it cools off nicely after Wednesday.”
There are nearly 600 wildfires burning across B.C., with 165 started on Saturday alone — mainly due to lightning hitting dry areas. Of those fires, the wildfire service says 47 are close to homes or infrastructure such as roads.
At 130 km², the Snowy Mountain fire is still the largest in the province. There are about 40 fires of note.
The B.C. Wildfire Service says about 3,500 crew members — including frontline firefighters, support staff and people working behind the scenes — are fairly evenly spread across the province.
That’s about double the usual 1,700 people working for the BC Wildfire Service.
About 2,500 people living in the western part of Quesnel have been put on evacuation alert as crews continue to battle a growing fire near the city. Another 2,000 people in the surrounding area are also preparing to leave at a moment’s notice.
Environment Canada blames wildfire smoke for the air quality advisories that now blanket most of central and southern B.C., and forecasters say another round of hot and dry weather is expected to linger over the province for at least a week.
– With files from Estefania Duran and the Canadian Press