Fire­fight­ers re­lieved by change in fore­cast

The Guardian (Charlottetown) - - CANADA -

Fire of­fi­cials in Bri­tish Columbia say they’re re­lieved by a slight re­prieve in the weather fore­cast that had been call­ing for strong winds where dozens of fires are burn­ing.

BC Wild­fire Ser­vice chief in­for­ma­tion of­fi­cer Kevin Skrep­nek said fore­cast­ers have re­vised their pre­dic­tion for an in­com­ing weather sys­tem.

“We are ex­pect­ing there to be some light­ning with this sys­tem but it is likely to have some rain with it,” he said, adding the over­all pat­tern is for hot, dry con­di­tions to con­tinue.

“We were a lit­tle bit more con­cerned about to­day’s wind, but the fore­cast has shifted a lit­tle bit and we ex­pect it’s go­ing to be milder than first thought, but wind is a tricky thing to fore­cast so we are brac­ing for the worst and keep­ing a close eye on it.” he said in an in­ter­view Wed­nes­day.

Crews took ad­van­tage of calmer con­di­tions to make progress on fire guards near Wil­liams Lake, where 10,000 peo­ple re­main on evac­u­a­tion alert.

Twelve new fires were sparked Tues­day, just a frac­tion of the more than 100 that broke out each day last week­end, Skrep­nek said. There are about 200 fires burn­ing prov­ince-wide, he said.

Mod­est gains in fight­ing the fires mean an evac­u­a­tion or­der was lifted for the com­mu­nity of Lit­tle Fort, north of Kam­loops, al­though an alert re­mains in ef­fect as three large fires burn nearby, he said.

More than 14,000 peo­ple have been dis­placed by wild­fires from Prince­ton in the south to Ques­nel in cen­tral B.C.

Bob Turner with of Emer­gency Man­age­ment BC said the prov­ince re­mains pre­pared for the pos­si­bil­ity of mass evac­u­a­tions.

Skrep­nek said if an evac­u­a­tion or­der goes into ef­fect in Wil­liams Lake, peo­ple will be sent north on High­way 97 to Prince Ge­orge, but Cana­dian Armed Forces air­craft and he­li­copters are also stand­ing by in case air­lifts are nec­es­sary.

Turner says the prov­ince’s pri­or­ity is pub­lic safety and he en­cour­ages peo­ple to heed evac­u­a­tion or­ders when they are is­sued.

But the chief of the Bon­a­parte In­dian Band north of Ashcroft said they de­fied an evac­u­a­tion or­der over the week­end and suc­cess­fully stopped flames from over­run­ning their re­serve.

CP PHOTO

The area of Bos­ton Flats, B.C. is pic­tured Tues­day af­ter a wild­fire ripped through the area ear­lier in the week.

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