February 22, 2018

BC wildfire status Saturday: Crews brace for potentially stormy weekend

16 July 2017, 01:31 | Frank Carlson

Southeast Fire Centre busy with a few small blazes this past week remind the public that a fire ban remains in effect

Southeast Fire Centre busy with a few small blazes this past week remind the public that a fire ban remains in effect

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.

Crews have been preparing by conducting controlled burns all across B.C.'s central interior, desperately trying to get rid of anything that could fuel the flames.

There are still thousands of people who have been forced from their homes, and Robert Turner with Emergency Management BC says that number is now inching closer to 17,000.

Kevin Skrepnek, chief information officer for the BC Wildfire Service, says improved smoke conditions over the last 24 hours have permitted a more accurate size assessment of the almost 200 wildfires burning in the province, many of them in the Cariboo fire centre.

"Given the proximity of existing wildfires to communities, infrastructure and transportation corridors, people throughout the Cariboo region and the southern Interior should be prepared for potential evacuations", the government states.

Many businesses in Williams Lake have already shut down due to a lack of customers.

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Officials said more than 80 per cent of the 6,150 households registered with the Red Cross will have received funds from the province by the end of Saturday.

Unit crews began lighting controlled fires west of Williams Lake on Thursday, where almost 11,000 people have been on standby since Monday to evacuate at a moment's notice.

Environment Canada is forecasting a cold front Saturday afternoon, bringing windy conditions throughout southern B.C. Lightning is also forecasted near Fort St. John. People are being urged to stay out of the backcountry.

An older fire at Woden Creek is 100 per cent contained and crews are patrolling for flare-ups.

They are located in the Prince George region, around Kamloops, Harrison Lake East, and the Cariboo.

In the Chilcotin region, fires burning in Hanceville, west of Williams Lake, are now covering an estimated 40,000 hectares, forcing evacuations in several communities.

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