BC wildfire crews prepare for windy weekend

Randall Padilla
July 16, 2017

Kevin Skrepnek, chief information officer with the B.C. Wildfire Service, said Thursday the slight reprieve in weather over the past few days will end with the arrival of a cold front that is expected to bring "significant winds" across most of the southern part of the province.

Fire crews were preparing for the windy weekend Friday with several controlled burns throughout the Williams Lake and Ashcroft areas, but hot and dry conditions have proved challenging. Fire suppression this season has cost the province $77 million and the bill for supporting evacuees has yet to be tallied. "The Red Cross has registered approx 4,100 families to date". An evacuation alert was issued Saturday for the Clisbako area.

Richmond said he told a meeting of evacuees on Thursday night that efforts were underway to restore some normality in fire-weary communities.

Cobb said he believes everyone left in Williams Lake would follow evacuations orders, adding that anyone who stays behind risks the lives of firefighters who may be called in to save people from burning homes.

The province declared a state of emergency last week and more than 16,000 people have been affected by evacuation orders, with thousands more on alert.

Environment Canada said it expects widespread winds from 20 to 50 km/h to begin Saturday afternoon, with local wind gusts picking up Sunday morning in some valleys and canyons.

Unit crews began lighting controlled fires west of Williams Lake on Thursday, where almost 11,000 people have been on standby since Monday to evacuate at a moment's notice. The Loon Lake evacuation order affects 350 homes.

The winds have already been a challenge for crews fighting the Gustafsen wildfire near 100 Mile House.

Even coastal communities aren't immune to fire-prevention measures as fire danger ratings of "high" to "extreme" cover larger swaths of the region.

People on boats or other watercraft hoping to get a "better view" of the activity put both themselves, and those working the fires, at risk.

Other reports by AllAboutTopnews

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