BC wildfire status Saturday: Crews brace for potentially stormy weekend

BC Wildfire Service ready for action on the Island	
		Thu Jul 13th 2017 1:30amNews

BC Wildfire Service ready for action on the Island Thu Jul 13th 2017 1:30amNews

Fire crews have been able to oversee significant controlled burning over the past few days around Williams Lake thanks to a brief reprieve in the weather, Skrepnek said.

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.

"It looks like that has worked in most of these incidents in creating a fuel-free area", he said, adding that high wind speeds could still move embers beyond the controlled areas, spreading the fires. An evacuation alert was issued Saturday for the Clisbako area.

Williams Lake Mayor Walt Cobb said crews were ensuring routes are clear and buses are ready if the rest of the city's 11,000 residents are suddenly forced to leave.

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Chief fire information officer Kevin Skrepnek says officials are concerned that weekend winds will the flames of wildfires burning throughout the B.C. Interior.

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

Since the fire season began in April, more than 616 blazes have consumed 1,140 square kilometres of land, forcing officials to order evacuations affecting 16,680 people.

"The public can expect to see more smoky skies as the wind prevails from the west", said Shaughnessy.

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Environment Canada is forecasting a cold front Saturday afternoon, bringing windy conditions throughout southern B.C. Lightning is also forecasted near Fort St. John.

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.

"That has the potential to really cause a lot of growth on these fires", Skrepnek said.

Some staff has already apparently made a decision to leave the region, not waiting on the official evacuation alert to be upgraded to an official order.

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The Cariboo Fire Centre is restricting access to four lakes in the region to assist with local firefighting efforts.

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