Western Canada wildfires prompt state of emergency, evacuations

Cheryl Sanders
July 8, 2017

British Columbia has declared a state of emergency in response to forest fires that have forced the evacuation of thousands of people in Canada's westernmost province.

A separate fire burning about 200 kilometres northwest of Kamloops forced as many as 3,600 people out of their homes.

The Nimpkish blaze comes just as the province enacted a sweeping campfire ban for B.C.'s South Coast due to persistent hot, dry weather in the region.

People are being told to go to an emergency social services reception centre in Kamloops as crews expect the blaze to grow substantially in the next several hours.

"The Cariboo Fire Centre will get us that information as they can, but their crews are focused on trying to direct this fire and slow it down if they can", said Richmond. The officials said they expect the Goodwin Fire to be fully contained by the end of the week.

A cause of the fire is under investigation.

Emergency management made the decision to expand evacuation orders to an estimated 2,100 properties in 105 Mile House, 108 Mile Ranch, and Lac La Heche on Friday afternoon amid fears that the fire will continue to spread aggressively.

The last provincial declaration of state of emergency was issued in August 2003 to deal with destructive and historic wildfire year.

The wildfire situation is much calmer in the Southeast of B.C. There are now five active wildfires, but only two are larger than a hectare.

"Usually you're lucky to see five or six cars in the morning", he said.

Human-caused fires are completely preventable and unnecessarily tie up crucial firefighting resources that could be used to deal with naturally occurring wildfires.

He said the decision to evacuate was made as the wind began to pick up in the area of the blaze, and firefighters warned that smoke and flames could begin spreading aggressively.

The Tl'etinqox First Nation and Yunesit'in First Nation, both around 100 kilometres west of Williams Lake, were both put under evacuation order on Friday. A 15-kilometre portion of the highway starting 10 kilometres west of Cache Creek is also closed.

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