May 22nd, 2024

Wildfire growth prompts another evacuation order in northeastern B.C.

By The Canadian Press on May 14, 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. THE CANADIAN PRESS/HO-BC Wildfire Service **MANDATORY CREDIT**

FORT NELSON, B.C. – A wildfire just outside the community of Fort Nelson has grown as residents in British Columbia’s northeast receive more evacuation orders.

An updated estimate from the BC Wildfire Service says the blaze spans 84 square kilometres, a significant increase since Monday, when it was mapped at about 53 square kilometres in size.

Forecasts are calling for wind that may blow the fire closer to Fort Nelson, where the community of about 4,700 and the neighbouring Fort Nelson First Nation have been under an evacuation order since Friday.

Areas subject to mandatory evacuation in B.C.’s northeast have increased, with the latest order Monday for Doig River First Nation and the Peace River Regional District as a fire threatens nearby.

The district told residents to grab what they need and drive south to an evacuation centre in Fort St. John.

Northern Rockies Regional Municipality Mayor Rob Fraser says staff at the emergency operations centre have been calling as many residents as they could and managed to convince some who stayed behind to leave.

Fraser says he suspects about 50 residents are still in town, along with plenty of other essential and critical staff.

“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. He said winds Sunday kept the flames from moving any closer into town.

He also said there is still electricity and water in Fort Nelson, but power is of particular concern for evacuees worried about their homes.

One drawback of the evacuation, Fraser said, is that it has been a challenge for essential staff, including firefighters, to get food.

The blaze is one of several burning across Western Canada.

A fire close to Cranberry Portage in northwest Manitoba forced about 550 residents from their homes, while a fire that prompted an evacuation alert in Fort McMurray, Alta., appeared to be holding about 16 kilometres southeast of the city.

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

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