British Columbia wildfires prompt more than 70 evacuation orders, alerts

British Columbia wildfires prompt more than 70 evacuation orders, alerts

Wildfires in British Columbia have prompted more than 70 current evacuation alerts or orders, with many clustered in the province’s central Interior.

The Cariboo Regional District has issued an order covering 38 parcels of land in a roughly 160-square- kilometre area around Anahim Peak, northeast of Bella Coola.

That’s on top of an order issued Friday spanning nearly 3,340 square kilometres in the Lhoosk’uz area, west of Quesnel, and several others in the region.

Meanwhile, Environment Canada has posted severe thunderstorm bulletins for a swath of the central Interior, saying conditions are favourable for the development of storms that may be capable of producing strong winds, heavy rain and hail.

The weather office continues to warn of smoky skies and reduced visibility throughout central and eastern B.C. from the Yukon boundary to the Kootenays.

RELATED: B.C. wildfires on the rise amid drought, federal help on the way

With more than 370 wildfires burning in B.C., the Canadian Interagency Forest Fire Centre says the province has the greatest number of blazes across the country.

B.C.’s drought bulletin shows widespread drought conditions, and fire danger rating is ranked at high to extreme across much of the province.

The Transportation Ministry has warned drivers not to pull over and stop to take pictures of wildfires, saying it’s “very unsafe” to do so.

A statement posted to Facebook says ministry staff have heard reports of people stopping along highways, especially Highway 16 between Prince Rupert and Prince George, a route where several “wildfires of note” are burning nearby.

There are 20 highly visible, threatening or potentially damaging blazes burning in B.C., many of which are clustered in the Bulkley-Nechako and Cariboo regions.

This report by The Canadian Press was first published July 16, 2023.

The Canadian PressThe Canadian Press

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