May 18th, 2024

Wildfire service warns winds may fan ‘aggressive’ blazes in B.C.’s north

By The Canadian Press on May 15, 2024.

A view of the Parker Lake wildfire near Fort Nelson, B.C. is shown on Monday, May 13, 2024 in a BC Wildfire Service handout photo. British Columbia's wildfire service says there's potential for gusty winds to fan aggressive fire behaviour in the north, where out-of-control have forced several thousand people to leave their homes. THE CANADIAN PRESS/HO-BC Wildfire Service **MANDATORY CREDIT**

FORT NELSON, B.C. – British Columbia’s wildfire service says gusty winds could fan “aggressive fire behaviour” in the north, where out-of-control blazes have forced several thousand people to flee their homes.

An update from the BC Wildfire Service says winds could pick up this afternoon in the Fort Nelson area where an 84-square-kilometre blaze threatens the town that has mostly been abandoned by residents.

The community of about 4,700 has been evacuated since Friday along with the neighbouring First Nation, while the Doig River First Nation and Peace River Regional District also issued evacuation orders due to a separate fire north of Fort St. John.

The Northern Rockies Regional Municipality says a public information meeting for evacuees from the Fort Nelson area is set to take place in Fort St. John later today.

The wildfire service says stronger winds will result in more aggressive fire behaviour and increased rates of spread, posing challenges for suppression efforts.

It says conditions remain unseasonably warm and dry throughout much of the province, raising the potential for fires to spark and grow.

The service adds that most spring wildfires are typically caused by human activity and everyone must do their part to avoid sparking a blaze.

Wildfires this year have already burned through more the 2,300 square kilometres of British Columbia, according to the wildfire service.

That’s already enough to place 2024 in the middle of the rankings for the total amounts burned in entire years since 2008, although it’s less than one tenth of the record 28,000 square kilometres scorched last year.

The wildfire service says there are 128 active wildfires in the province, including 15 that are burning out of control.

This report by The Canadian Press was first published May 15, 2024.

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