B.C. wildfire status Friday: Strong winds expected this weekend could worsen fire conditions

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WATCH: Live BC1 coverage of the latest developments on the wildfires torching several regions across the province.

There are now 167 wildfires burning across B.C. on Friday.

Officials have now turned their attention to the weekend where expected strong winds could worsen wildfire conditions across the province.

The hardest hit area is still the Cariboo region where thousands of people have been forced from their homes.

Around 10,000 people in Williams Lake have been under evacuation alert since Monday night and a new evacuation order was issued in the Hanceville area west of Williams Lake on Wednesday afternoon. Officials warn the evacuation alert could remain in place for the a few more weeks.

Officials also closed public access to four lakes in the Cariboo on Friday in order to allow firefighting aircraft to pick up water safely.

Boaters and other recreational lake users are banned from Williams Lake, Watson Lake, Lac La Hache and Horse Lake until August 25 or the BC Wildfire Service rescinds the order.

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WATCH: A popular rest stop on Highway 20 south of Alexis Creek lies in ruin after fires swept the area:

Click to play video: 'Wildfire destroys Lee’s Corner'
Wildfire destroys Lee’s Corner

WATCH: An eerie haze envelops Williams Lake Friday morning:

Click to play video: 'Wildfire smoke around Williams Lake'
Wildfire smoke around Williams Lake

Global BC meteorologist Mark Madryga says the concern for this weekend are the winds starting to pick up in the Cariboo region Friday afternoon. Those brisk winds will continue later today and into this evening.

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Then a cold front will sweep through B,C, on Saturday. Gusty winds will affect all fire areas, especially during the afternoon and evening Saturday, says Madryga. Isolated lightning strikes and possible showers will roll closer to Williams Lake on Saturday afternoon and evening.

LISTEN:  Chief Fire Information Officer Kevin Skrepnek with a Friday morning update

FULL COVERAGE: Wildfires burning around B.C.

More than 78,000 hectares have been scorched so far during this year’s fire season, starting April 1.

The Ashcroft reserve fire is still burning out of control with more than 13,100 hectares already being scorched.

Ground crews and heavy equipment continue to build and enforce guard lines around the fire, with support from helicopters. Air tankers and helicopters will continue to be used as necessary. The B.C. Wildfire Service says controlled burning operations have been occurring and will continue over the next several days, as conditions allow. These controlled burning operations will help to reduce fuel between the fire and the guard lines.

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WATCH:  Two residents of the town of Boston Flats: one home lost, the other untouched. Global’s Paul Haysom talked to both of them:

Click to play video: 'B.C. wildfires: A tale of two neighbours'
B.C. wildfires: A tale of two neighbours

Crews fighting the fire near 100 Mile House, known as the Gustafsen fire, are making some good progress.

The large controlled burn along the southern edge was successful on Thursday. According to fire information officer Heather Rise, she said weather conditions were near-perfect on Thursday and there were low winds.

The fire has burned 5,000 hectares and is now 20 per cent contained. But residents won’t be allowed home for at least another week.

WATCH: Plumes of smoke rise from the multiple fires near 100 Mile House:

Click to play video: 'Aerial vews of wildfires around 100 Mile House'
Aerial vews of wildfires around 100 Mile House
Smoke at the 100 Mile Airport on Friday, July 14.
Inside the 100 Mile House evacuation zone. Credit: Paul Carey.
Inside the 100 Mile House evacuation zone. Credit: Paul Carey.
Inside the 100 Mile House evacuation zone. Credit: Paul Carey. Credit: Paul Carey
Inside the 100 Mile House evacuation zone. Credit: Paul Carey.
Inside the 100 Mile House evacuation zone. Credit: Paul Carey.
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A rancher uses a hose to put out hotspots in brush and grass by a home near 100 Mile House. Supplied
A fire burns just behind a home near 100 Mile House. Supplied
Wildfires burn behind a ranch near 100 Mile House. Supplied

Full list of wildfires of note with evacuation orders and alerts

Near Princeton, crews are fighting fire with fire.

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Officials are using controlled burns to stop the spread of the 3,000-hectare blaze northeast of the community. It’s burning on multiple hillsides and although it’s now considered to be 10 per cent contained, wind gusts are still a concern in this region as well.

“By eliminating the fuels on the edge of the fire guard, what we are doing is we are actually increasing the width of that guard and we have control of the fire by putting it on the ground ourselves,” said fire operations officer Kim Janowsky.

The Princeton fire began last Friday and has since prompted the evacuation of 350 homes.

READ MORE: On the front line of the Princeton-area wildfire

A special air quality statement remains in effect for the Interior and eastern parts of the province. Residents are warned to avoid strenuous activity outside and children and seniors are encouraged to stay indoors.

The province declared a state of emergency last week and more than 16,000 people have been evacuated, with thousands more on alert.

The province says evacuees must remain patient and wait for official notice before they can return home, and warns violating orders can detract from firefighting efforts by diverting first responders to take part in avoidable rescues.

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Near Williams Lake, the team that builds the massive multi-million dollar log homes on the popular HGTV show Timber Kings is still fighting to save two of their build-sites.

But they’ve already lost one.

Bryan Reid Sr. owns Pioneer Log Homes, and said the fire near 150 Mile House tore through their third site last Friday.

Reid said when the fire hit, it grew out of control within half an hour, and the crew had to choose between saving the site and helping friends evacuate their homes.

They opted to help with the evacuation.

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