An aggressive forest fire burning seven kilometres west of 100 Mile House grew from 1,500 to 1,800 hectares on Friday, according to the B.C. Wildfire Service. By Saturday, it was 3,200 hectares.
About 3,000 people were ordered to leave their homes Friday afternoon, in addition to the 33 properties already on evacuation alert.
An evacuation order has been issued for:
- 108 Mile Ranch Community west of Hwy 97
- 105 Mile Community west of Hwy 97
- All properties west of the 108 Mile Ranch Community and north of the previous evacuation order to the west boundary of geographic area 105 Mile.
Three evacuation orders are already in place.
Evacuation orders 1 and 2 are for the following properties:
- 5031 Tatton Station Road
- 5027 Tatton Station Road
- 5025 Tatton Station Road
- 5111 Tatton Station Road
- 5190 Abel Lake Road
Evacuation Order 3 is for the following 28 properties:
- Abel Lake Road: 4919,4948, 5028, 5018, 5040, 5074, 5112, 5171
- Helena Lake Road: 5389, 5383, 5395, 5391
- Lily Pad Lake Road: 4996, 5001, 5051, 5082, 5145
- Tatton Station Road: 3575, 5233, 5230, 5224, 5221, 5215, 5208, 5200, 5194
- Exeter/McKinley Road: 5283, 5337
One hundred and twenty firefighters from the Wildfire Service and the 100 Mile House Fire Department are currently fighting the blaze, being aided by six helicopters, as well as 15 pieces of heavy equipment.
Another 25-member Incident Management Team and support staff, along with four more helicopters, air tankers, and heavy equipment joined the fight today.
Highway 1 and Highway 97C have been closed near Ashcroft due to the fire.
WATCH: Horses flee fire near Ashcroft
The blaze spanned two hectares before jumping from 140 to 225 to 260 to 500 hectares by Thursday night. On Friday morning, the fire had grown to 1,200 hectares and by mid-afternoon it is now 1,500 hectares and growing.
The BCWS said the fire is expected to grow substantially over the next few hours and the amount is dependent on weather and wind conditions.
The Cariboo Regional District (CRD) has expanded the Evacuation area for the Gustafson North FSR fire. The total evacuation area includes approximately 2050 properties on the west side of Highway 97 between the northern boundary of 100 Mile House and the northern tip of Lac La Hache.
The CRD has also issued an Evacuation Alert for approximately 220 properties on the east side of Highway 97 in the Lac La Hache area.
Emergency Social Services Reception Centres have been established at the Curling Rink on Airport Road in 100 Mile House and the Ramada Inn Convention Centre in Williams Lake.
CRD chair Al Richmond says RCMP officers went door-to-door Thursday night to make sure everyone got out.
“Right now, the communities of 108 and 105 are not under an Alert or Evacuation Order,” he said. “The winds are calm here, which is good for us today. But if that changes, the situation could change, it’s a very serious situation, I don’t want to undermine that.”
Richmond says the BC Wilfire Service has established sprinkler protection systems for many of the homes that are threatened.
According to the Cariboo Fire Centre, the fire started Thursday morning along the Gustafsen North Forest Service Road and is zero per cent contained.
“It is burning in some relatively dense timber, so it’s an aggressive fire, it’s burning quite hot and that has challenged our efforts,” BC’s Chief Fire Information Officer Kevin Skrepnek said.
The Norbord Mill and other nearby structures have not yet been threatened by the wildfire.
The Cariboo Regional District issued a “tactical evacuation” for specific properties in the area.
Airtankers, including skimmers, helicopters and 60 firefighters were tackling the fire on Thursday. Skimmers were reloading from Watson Lake and BC Wildlife Service had asked people to stay clear of the lake.
According to BC Hydro, more than 1,200 residents in the area between 108 and 105 Mile House have been impacted by the fire.
Skrepnek said the cause of the fire has not been determined but did note the majority of the fires that have been started over the recent weeks have been predominantly human-caused.
Fires have flared up throughout the province amid hot and dry conditions in the Cariboo region and across most of British Columbia.
With the weather conditions not changing in the next week, Skrepnek said he expects a sizable increase in fire activity in B.C.
The B.C. Wildfire Service is reporting the fire on the eastern shores of Harrison Lake has grown to 115 hectares and that 20 more firefighters will be on site Tuesday morning.
Fire Information Officer Noelle Kekula says the fire is five per cent contained, but believes crews could be battling it for a while.
Here are some photos from the fire burning west of 100 Mile House: