Evacuation order for Hudson’s Hope lifted: Mount McAllister fire at 16,000 hectares

WATCH: Crews fighting the Mount McAllister fire receive some help from Mother Nature, allowing officials to rescind the evacuation order for nearby Hudson’s Hope. Jill Bennett reports from the area.

UPDATE: 2:45 p.m. July 17 – The evacuation order for Hudson’s Hope residents has now been lifted. Residents are now allowed to return home, however they remain under evacuation alert.

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VANCOUVER – Residents and firefighters are hoping for some relief on Thursday as the weather is expected to cool down a little in northern B.C. There was a downpour in Hudson’s Hope at 10 a.m. and the forecast is for continued light rain. However, the Wildfire Management Branch says the evacuation order will not be lifted on Thursday.

On Wednesday, about 1,100 people were ordered to leave the town of Hudson’s Hope, west of Fort St. John in B.C.’s Peace River District  because of the Mount McAllister fire.

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They were previously under evacuation alert.

Approximately 90 per cent of residents have left, 739 of which have registered at the Reception Centre in Fort St. John.
At the Fort St. John Emergency Centre. Credit: Jill Bennett.
At the Fort St. John Emergency Centre. Credit: Jill Bennett.

The Mount McAllister Wildfire is now an estimated 16,000 hectares in size and is zero per cent contained.

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The fire is causing significant smoke and ash to fall on surrounding communities.

Navi Saini of the Wildfire Management Branch said lightning caused the fire that was first reported Sunday and it has grown substantially.

Residents under an evacuation order were told to immediately leave the area and proceed to a Emergency Social Services (ESS) Reception Centre to register. An ESS Centre has been set up at the North Peace Arena located at 9805, 96 Avenue, Fort St. John. Anyone who has relocated elsewhere was asked to call 250-787-8182 to register their whereabouts.

The province says the fire is extremely volatile, and it’s still not safe for ground crews to work in the area.

BC Hydro says they have evacuated 200 staff and contractors from their two generating stations in Hudson’s Hope; GM Shrum (WAC Bennett dam) and Peace Canyon.

Hydro says that the two stations, Peace Canyon and GM Shrum, are responsible for about 30 per cent of their overall capacity.

“These evacuations will not impact our ability to provide power to the province, as the units at both generating stations can be operated remotely. Also, we can shift more of the load to our generating stations on the Columbia River, including Mica and Revelstoke, if required. At this time, our transmission structures coming out of the generating stations are not at risk. We will continue to work closely with Emergency Management BC to monitor the impact of the wildfire,” reads a statement from BC Hydro media relations spokesperson Simi Heer.

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Courtesy of Wildfire Management Branch.
Courtesy of Wildfire Management Branch.
The sky by the fires. Photo by Terry Burgart. Terry Burgart
The sky above the WAC Bennett Dam. Photo by Terry Burgart. Terry Burgart

Highway 29 was closed in both directions from the north end of Moberly Lake, 33 km north of Junction with Highway 97 North in Chetwynd to Peace View Rest Area (79.1 km) but has now been reopened.

Residents who have been evacuated from Hudson’s Hope can look for a place to stay on this Facebook page. Residents in the area of Fort St. John are offering up places to stay, including places for pets and children.

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At this time the city not require public donations of personal items for the evacuees.

Further information will be posted on the District of Hudson’s Hope Facebook page and website as it becomes available. Or you can call the Municipal Office at 250-783-9901. If you would like to donate, volunteer, or if you have accommodations for any of the evacuees, please call 1-250-794-5178.

An evacuation order was already been in place for the area directly south and west of Hudson’s Hope.

Specifically the order area runs directly south and west of Hudson’s Hope extending to an area encompassing a portion of the Moberly Forest Service Road to just north of Mount Hulcross to the most western boundary of the Klin-Se-Za provincial park; directly north to an area south of Carbon Lake.

– With files from The Canadian Press

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