BC wildfire crews prepare for windy weekend

A helicopter refills at the Ashcroft pool on July 7.           Mike Mastin

"The big weather concern at the moment is the outlook for this weekend", he said.

He says 1,110-square kilometres of timber, bush and grassland has been charred since April 1, more than double the figure the service had estimated earlier this week.

A complete and total ban on open fires is now in place in British Columbia, with the province having declared a state of emergency last week.

"When it is this hot and dry and of course with these winds in the forecast, it just makes things all the more volatile in terms of even the use of off-road vehicles, the heat off the exhaust pipe or debris coming off that vehicle could be enough to start a fire".

There are more than 16,000 evacuees and more than 4,000 families registered with Red Cross.

Crews from Metro Vancouver and Vancouver Island joined the more than 3,000 people battling the flames.




People in the Loon Lake area of the Thompson-Nicola Regional District were ordered to evacuate the area, and an evacuation alert was issued for the Village of Clinton on Friday.

Williams Lake Mayor Walt Cobb said he feels heartened after forecast stronger winds failed to materialize earlier this week, giving ground crews time to prepare for the worst. "The good news is that none of these fires are threatening any structures or communities and that they all are fairly small in size".

"Some are afraid. Some have young kids and they don't want to take the chance". Officials there are saying the fire is still 20 per cent contained.

The Walmart in Williams Lake has joined the growing rank of businesses forced to close over the wildfire situation blazing near the city. The issue was staff shortages, he said.

John Hawkings, director of recreation sites and trails, says the closure includes 165 campsites and 65 trails in the Cariboo fire centre, in addition to 18 sites outside the centre that are affected by forest fires.

Dozens of provincial parks, ecological reserves and protected areas have also been closed in the fire centre because of the wildfire hazard.

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