Wildfire growth prompts another evacuation order in northeastern B.C.

Wildfire growth prompts another evacuation order in northeastern B.C.

A wildfire just outside the community of Fort Nelson has grown as residents in British Columbia’s northeast receive more evacuation orders.

An updated estimate from the BC Wildfire Service says the blaze spans 84 square kilometres, a significant increase since Monday, when it was mapped at about 53 square kilometres in size.

Forecasts are calling for wind that may blow the fire closer to Fort Nelson, where the community of about 4,700 and the neighbouring Fort Nelson First Nation have been under an evacuation order since Friday.

Fort Nelson resident Bud Streeper posted a video update on Tuesday showing some rain falling in the area.

“Definitely not a downpour, but a steady little sprinkle right now,” he said in the video.

Areas subject to mandatory evacuation across B.C.’s northeast have increased, with the latest order Monday for Doig River First Nation and the Peace River Regional District as a separate fire threatens nearby.

The district told residents to grab what they need and drive south to an evacuation centre in Fort St. John.

An update from Doig River First Nation Tuesday said the area, about 70 kilometres northeast of Fort St. John, is seeing an increase in humidity and lower temperatures “which is promising, but we are remaining vigilant.”

“Sprinklers have been activated amongst the community for additional structural protection measures. Currently the community is safe, animals are taken care of,” the statement says.

Northern Rockies Regional Municipality Mayor Rob Fraser says staff at the emergency operations centre have been calling as many residents as they could and managed to convince some who stayed behind to leave.

Fraser says he suspects about 50 residents are still in town, along with plenty of other essential and critical staff.

“This is really going to be weather dependent, and so far the weather has been holding with us,” Fraser said in a video posted to Facebook. He said winds Sunday kept the flames from moving any closer into town.

He also said there is still electricity and water in Fort Nelson, but power is of particular concern for evacuees worried about their homes.

One drawback of the evacuation, Fraser said, is that it has been a challenge for essential staff, including firefighters, to get food.

The fires are some of several burning across Western Canada.

A fire close to Cranberry Portage in northwest Manitoba forced about 550 residents from their homes, while a fire that prompted an evacuation alert in Fort McMurray, Alta., appeared to be holding about 16 kilometres southeast of the city.

This report by The Canadian Press was first published May 14, 2024.

The Canadian PressThe Canadian Press

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