July 9, 2014 10:20 am

UPDATE: Evacuation order issued for oil and gas fields southeast of Tumbler Ridge

The blaze near Tumbler Ridge. Credit: Jill Kelsh, Prince George Fire Centre – Wildfire Management Branch

The wildfire in the The Peace River Regional District is now over 1700 hectares in size and is expected to grow to 4,000 by the end of today.

Emergency Info BC issued an evacuation order for the gas field areas of Red Deer Creek, Ojay and Grizzly South (southeast of Tumbler Ridge) due to the wildfire, and a local state of emergency has also been issued.

The order is in effect for the area directly south of the Wapiti River, as far west as Wapiti Provincial Park to the most southernmost boundary of the park and directly east to the Alberta border.

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It affects approximately 200 people.

“Right now our top priorities are just making sure that the area is clear,” said Jillian Kelsh of B.C.’s Wildfire Management Branch.

“We do have a structure protection unit going up in hopes that it can provide some value to the camps in the area, and then our big concern is just making sure that it doesn’t cross over to the Alberta side.”

The fire was first reported Sunday and is being blamed on a lightening strike, said Kelsh, who added the area is mostly forested.

The regional district’s evacuation order was issued because of what it called an “immediate danger to life safety,” and it directs people to leave the area with their personal belongings immediately and to close and latch gates.

Kelsh said 70 firefighters, five helicopters and four air tankers are battling the blaze.

“We do expect it to grow quite significantly in the next 24 hours just due to high winds and hot and dry temperatures,” she said.

The agency says “anyone in the area should leave immediately, close gates (latch, but don’t lock) and take all personal items with them.”

The Wildfire Management Branch is also working with the local school district to set up a command post at a high school.

“This is in no way indicates that there is any immediate threat to Tumbler Ridge,” said the release. “It is simply the most prudent location for a command centre for this fire.”

The provincial fire centre is warning that with hot weather predicted for the rest of the week, fire activity in the Thompson-Cariboo area is also expected to increase.

The fire is one of many crews across B.C. are currently battling.

READ MORE: Hot, dry weather increases risk of fires throughout B.C.

To view an interactive map of current BC wildfires, click here

- With files from Canadian Press

© Shaw Media, 2014

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