August 11, 2017 9:13 am
Updated: August 11, 2017 5:34 pm

Public banned from backcountry in the Cariboo due to wildfire risk

Bad news for hikers and campers. Big sections of B.C's backcountry could soon be off limits because of the risk of wildfires. Jen Palma has details.

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As of 1:30 p.m. Friday, the public is now banned from backcountry in the Cariboo fire zone.

With this closure, officials hope to reduce the risk of new fires starting in this region, which is popular with hikers and campers.

MAP: Where the wildfires are burning around B.C.

There were 148 fires burning in the province on Thursday with the majority of new starts in recent days attributed to lightning.

The area around Williams Lake has been some of the hardest hit this wildfire season and some residents in the region have been out of their homes for weeks.

Last week, dirt bikes, ATVs and other recreational vehicles were banned from the backcountry due to the dry conditions.

Map of new evacuation order issued Thursday, Aug. 10:

B.C. Forests Minister Doug Donaldson said the increased threat of naturally caused fires means it’s more important than ever to prevent human-caused fires.

“We have very, very dry conditions all around the province, so any additional fires starting have implications about the resources available to fight them,” he said.

FULL COVERAGE: B.C. wildfires

A restriction order means people cannot remain in or enter the area without the prior written authorization. Exceptions include people who are travelling to or from their principal residence, a person acting in an official capacity or those who support efforts to fight wildfires.

An evacuation alert has also been issued for residents in the Maeford Lake area. They should be ready to leave their homes at a moment’s notice.

The Cariboo fire zone is approximately 10.3 million hectares in the central interior, with the headquarters located in Williams Lake. It stretches from Clinton, north to the Cottonwood River, east to Wells Gray Provincial Park, and west to Tweedsmuir Provincial Park.

There could be some good news for firefighters battling the blazes around B.C. as cooler weather is expected this weekend.

Global News meteorologist Yvonne Schalle says on Saturday, a cooler air mass is going to push its way from the north coast and into the south coast by the evening.

“Now just ahead of it on Saturday, we could see a slight risk of a thunderstorm, and it’ll be across the central and southern interior,”she says. “So there is the potential for the slight risk of a thunderstorm for the weekend on Saturday, but on Sunday, a change is on the way for much of the southern and central half of the province. The weather maker that’s working its way across the coast will start to push its way in. We’re hoping to see precipitation in the form of rain and light rain for most of our Saturday, and cooler temperatures in behind as well.”

-With files from The Canadian Press

© 2017 Global News, a division of Corus Entertainment Inc.

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