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Officials say scattered showers won't help BC wildfires, wind may fuel flame

16 July 2017, 01:29 | Melanie Burgess

Watson Lake is one of the lakes that’s restricted to the public effective immediately. Tara Sprickerhoff

Watson Lake is one of the lakes that’s restricted to the public effective immediately. Tara Sprickerhoff

In addition to those, several fires are burning on the east side of Arrow Lake.

"Given these winds, we are expecting the very real possibility of extreme and violently aggressive fire behaviour out there", Kevin Skrepnek, B.C.'s chief fire information officer, said Saturday.

A complete and total ban on open fires is now in place in British Columbia, with the province having declared a state of emergency last week. Controlled burns allow for the fuel to burn in a controlled setting before fires potentially move to the areas, due to wind. On Saturday morning, an evacuation order was issued for the Clisbako area, southwest of Prince George.

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.

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.

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. Officials have not said how many people are affected. The Loon Lake evacuation order affects 350 homes.

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"Unfortunately, significant rain continues to elude the southern half of the province for the foreseeable future", Environment Canada said.

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.

"What I'm suggesting to people is: If you're going to stay and you're not going to evacuate when you're told to evacuate, make sure you've got your dental records so if you burn up in the fire we can identify you", he said.

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

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



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