0BC Wildfire Service)

0BC Wildfire Service)

Communities on evacuation alert in many areas of B.C. as wildfires flare

Warning was issued for 583-square-kilometre blaze that has charred Fraser Lake to Fort St. James

Crews battling wildfires across British Columbia braced Friday for intense activity on some of the nearly 600 blazes in the province after the Wildfire Service issued a warning of extreme fire behaviour.

The warning can be issued when high heat and a lack of rain combine to strip humidity from the air, said information officer Forrest Tower.

“When (humidity) drops below a certain percentage that’s when we start to see increased fire behaviour as the fuels start to dry out. Because all our fuels are already pretty dry, when there is no humidity to help out, it just increases fire behaviour,” Tower said.

The warning was issued for a 583-square-kilometre blaze that has charred an area from Fraser Lake to Fort St. James in the northern Interior. Tower said gusty winds were also forecast for Friday, adding to the potential for dangerous fire behaviour.

High winds were also a key reason for an evacuation alert issued Thursday night to about 4,500 residents of Kimberley in southeastern B.C. as a 56-square-kilometre wildfire pushed north towards the city. An area southwest of Kimberley was ordered evacuated Thursday and the Wildfire Service recommended an alert be extended to Kimberley so residents would have time to prepare.

“Everyone has learned a lot from last year,” said Tower, referring to evacuation orders and alerts that affected tens of thousands living in B.C.’s central and southern Interior during the 2017 wildfire season.

READ MORE: Whole city of Kimberley on an evacuation alert due to wildfires

READ MORE: B.C. city wakes up to darkness under wildfire smoke

“I think they just definitely want to be ahead of the game. … They just want everyone to be aware that there is a fire in (the) area, so they want to be really proactive with evacuation alerts, so people are well aware of the situation.”

He added: “It doesn’t mean that you have to panic.”

Fort St. James is one of the many communities in north and central B.C. threatened by the largest wildfire, called the Shovel Lake fire. Tower said the roughly 1,700 residents were anxious after weeks of being on evacuation alert.

“When a large community is put on evacuation alert for quite some time, we call it alert fatigue,” he said.

“It kind of sets in when people are constantly stressing about when or if an evacuation order gets put into place and it can increase stress levels quite a bit.”

The BC Wildfire Service also tweeted that it was seeing an increase in fire activity in the Kamloops Fire Centre, which was hard hit by major blazes in 2017, because temperatures were rising, relative humidity was dropping and winds were starting to kick up.

The service says 50 of B.C.’s nearly 600 wildfires were considered highly visible or potentially dangerous to people or property and those fires were burning in all areas of the province. That included Vancouver Island, where dozens of small lightning-caused wildfires at the northern end of the Island prompted a state of local emergency in the logging community of Zeballos as one of the fires burned close to its main access road.

Air quality advisories remained in effect across much of Western Canada due to smoke but Tower said some of it was lifting around the Shovel Lake fire, allowing helicopters to get into the air for the first time in two days.

The Canadian Press

Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter.

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

Those looking to view Christmas light displays in Salmon Arm will want to drive by 2320 First Ave NE starting on Dec. 5. (Lachlan Labere/Salmon Arm Observer)
Salmon Arm resident’s Christmas light display continues to expand

Terry Bonar preparing to light up 1st Ave NE starting Dec. 5

RCMP cruiser. (File photo)
Alberta, Chase residents handed driving prohibitions from RCMP

Drivers fail alcohol screening device tests

COVID-19. (Image courtesy CDC)
Interior Health reports 65 new cases of COVID-19

Province-wide, there are 887 new cases of the virus

The Pioneer Lodge Care home is hoping the community can cross some things off their residents’ Christmas lists. (Kari Shea/Unsplash)
Salmon Arm care home seeks gifts to ease Christmas isolation for seniors

Trees going up with gift tags listing item suggestions for residents of Pioneer Lodge

The Sicamous Fire Department has postponed their annual toy drive to Dec. 13. (File photo)
Sicamous and other Shuswap fire departments postponing toy drives

Due to a provincial health order, toy drive is being pushed back to Dec. 13

B.C. Health Minister Adrian Dix and provincial health officer Dr. Bonnie Henry update the COVID-19 situation at the B.C. legislature, Nov. 23, 2020. (B.C. government)
B.C. sets another COVID-19 record with 887 new cases

Another 13 deaths, ties the highest three days ago

Join Black Press Media and Do Some Good
Join Black Press Media and Do Some Good

Pay it Forward program supports local businesses in their community giving

RCMP searched for a suspect in Polson Park following an assault on a woman Thursday, Nov. 26. (Morning Star file photo)
Public warned after woman assaulted in Vernon’s Polson Park

RCMP on the hunt for suspect, described as in his 30’s

Arthur Topham has been sentenced to one month of house arrest and three years of probation after breaching the terms of his probation. Topham was convicted of promoting hate against Jewish people in 2015. (Photo submitted)
Quesnel man convicted for anti-Semitic website sentenced to house arrest for probation breach

Arthur Topham was convicted of breaching probation following his 2017 sentence for promoting hatred

Langley School District's board office. (Langley Advance Times files)
‘Sick Out’ aims to pressure B.C. schools over masks, class sizes

Parents from Langley and Surrey are worried about COVID safety in classrooms

The baby boy born to Gillian and Dave McIntosh of Abbotsford was released from hospital on Wednesday (Nov. 25) while Gillian continues to fight for her life after being diagnosed with COVID-19.
B.C. mom with COVID-19 still fighting for life while newborn baby now at home

Son was delivered Nov. 10 while Gillian McIntosh was in an induced coma

The Rutland IGA is located in Willow Park Shopping Centre at 590 BC-33. (Michael Rodriguez - Kelowna Capital News)
Customer asked to mask up, throws hot coffee at Kelowna IGA employee

The woman grabbed cat food on her way out when she refused to wear a mask

City of Armstrong Public Works Yard. (Google Maps)
Armstrong city staffer threatened in snow removal complaint

Community services manager says ‘veiled threat’ is believed to have been flippant, but is being taken seriously

Most Read