May 21st, 2024

B.C. firefighters battle ‘extreme fire behaviour’ as blaze approaches town

By The Canadian Press on May 13, 2024.

The Donnie Creek wildfire burns in an area between Fort Nelson and Fort St. John, B.C. in this 2023 handout photo provided by the BC Wildfire Service. THE CANADIAN PRESS/HO-BC Wildfire Service **MANDATORY CREDIT **

FORT NELSON, B.C. – Firefighters in British Columbia are battling “extreme fire behaviour” in the northeastern part of the province as a growing out-of-control blaze burns a few kilometres from Fort Nelson, B.C.

Cliff Chapman, BC Wildfire’s director of operations, says calmer winds overnight and into today prevented the Parker Lake wildfire from spreading into the town, although it has now grown to 53 square kilometres in size.

Chapman says winds are forecasted to pick up again today, and crews are using helicopters and bulldozers to fight the wildfire, while most groundcrews focus on protecting structures.

Evacuation orders by the Northern Rockies Regional Municipality and the Fort Nelson First Nation have been expanded to a wide swath of northeastern B.C., and Emergency Management Minister Bowinn Ma says about 4,700 people have been ordered to leave since Friday.

Ma says highways 97 and 77 north of Fort Nelson are also closed, and the small number of people who have not yet evacuated are urged to leave immediately in the face of the approaching wildfire.

The blaze is one of several burning across the West from Manitoba to B.C., while smoke from the fires has prompted special air quality statements in the northern half of Alberta and part of Saskatchewan.

This report by The Canadian Press was first published May 13, 2024.

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