Wildfires force thousands to leave homes in central B.C.
100 MILE HOUSE, B.C. — Buildings have been lost and people were told to leave their homes as two fastgrowing wildfires threatened communities Friday across central British Columbia.
Justine Hunse of the BC Wildfire Service said a blaze was burning across a seven-square-kilometre area outside Ashcroft, about 100 kilometres west of Kamloops.
“We have performed a tactical evacuation in the area, which means that firefighters have gone door-to-door to evacuate folks at very short notice,” she said.
The fire was partly within the boundaries of the Ashcroft Indian Reserve and structures have been “impacted,” Hunse said.
She could not confirm the extent of the damage.
Hunse said recent weather has been persistently hot and dry, pushing the risk of fire to extreme.
“We’ve really seen the fire danger rating spike over the last week or so,” she said.
Ashcroft resident Ian Douglas said he stood with a couple above the reserve and saw the flames destroy their home.
“A lady I know came up … and just as she was getting there, she and her husband watched their house burn,” he told radio station CHNL. “You could just see it go.”
Douglas said he believes five of the 25 buildings on the reserve were destroyed.
John Ranta, Cache Creek’s mayor and the head of the Thompson-Nicola Regional District, said a state of emergency was declared in the Ashcroft and Cache Creek area because of the fire.
At least 75 people were affected by an evacuation near Cache Creek, he said, adding that he heard up to five buildings were destroyed in the Ashcroft area.
The fire forced Highway 1 to shut in both directions between Ashcroft and Cache Creek, while Highway 97C running through Ashcroft was also closed, said Drive BC.
A separate fire burning about 200 kilometres northwest of Kamloops forced as many as 3,600 people out of their homes.
Al Richmond, chair of the Cariboo Regional District, said an evacuation order that was expanded Friday applied to about 2,100 properties around 105 Mile House, 108 Mile House and the west shore of Lac La Hache.
About 600 other properties remained under evacuation alert, he added.