May 21st, 2024

Residents around Doig River 206, B.C. under evacuation order due to wildfire

By The Canadian Press on May 14, 2024.

FORT NELSON, B.C. – More and more evacuation orders are being issued in northeastern British Columbia due to wildfires.

The latest came late Monday night, when the Peace River Regional District issued an evacuation order affecting residents around Doig River 206.

It’s a small community about 60 kilometres northeast of Fort St. John.

The regional district says people should be grabbing what they needing and going to an evacuation centre in Fort St. John, where help is waiting.

This comes as pressure to get residents affecting by wildfires in the area increases, so much so that in Fort Nelson, the mayor of the area says they’ve been calling holdouts directly.

Forecasts called for winds late Monday into Tuesday to blow the Parker Lake wildfire toward Fort Nelson – a risk that has triggered the Northern Rockies Regional Municipality and the Fort Nelson First Nation to expand mandatory evacuation orders to a wider swath of northeastern B.C.

As of early Tuesday morning, the fire had swelled to over 84 square kilometres, marking significant growth from Monday morning.

Northern Rockies Regional Municipality Mayor Rob Fraser says the municipality’s emergency operations centre called as many people as they had phone numbers for, and managed to convince some of the people who’ve remained to leave.

Fraser says he suspects about 50 of what he calls “civilians” are still in Fort Nelson, a community of about 4,700 people, but he says there’s plenty of other essential and critical staff still in town.

The blaze is one of several burning across the West from Manitoba to B.C.

A fire in the northwestern part of Manitoba is singeing the community of Cranberry Portage and has forced about 550 residents from their homes, while a fire that’s prompted an evacuation alert in Fort McMurray, Alta., appears to be holding about 16 kilometres southeast of the city.

“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 on Monday evening, where he explained that winds Sunday night kept the flames from moving any closer into town.

He also said the electricity and water remain on in Fort Nelson, noting that power is of particular concern for evacuees who are worried about their homes.

One drawback of evacuating non-essential people, he said, was that it was becoming challenging for essential staff such as firefighters to get food.

The fire grew to 53 square kilometres in size by Monday, and there is no significant rain in the forecast for northeast B.C. through to next Sunday.

Meanwhile, the Doig River First Nation 60 kilometres northeast of Fort St. John, B.C., has also issued an evacuation order, asking members to leave the area due to a spreading wildfire nearby.

Alberta Wildfire says a blaze that has had 68,000 people in Fort McMurray on notice to be ready to leave at a moment’s notice since Friday grew yesterday when the sun came out and the humidity dissipated during the afternoon. Shifting winds also contributed to the growth “in multiple directions,” the agency said.

It said on Tuesday, winds are expected from the northwest at 10-15 km/h, shifting to the northeast later in the day, with a high of 19 C.

Another 14-square-kilometre blaze near the hamlet of Teepee Creek in northwestern Alberta was facing extreme wildfire conditions, with gusty winds and no precipitation in the forecast.

Manitoba’s wildfire director says in the 40 years he’s been working with wildfires, he’s never seen one move like the blaze threatening Carberry Portage.

Earl Simmons said the fire was started by lightning and boosted by very dry conditions and strong winds on Saturday, and was growing two kilometres an hour on the head, or the front of the fire.

But with reduced winds, the size of the fire has been holding at more than 300 square kilometres and it has not encroached further toward Cranberry Portage.

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

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