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B.C. wildfire status Friday: good and bad news on the wildfire front

Click to play video: 'Monte Lake family loses dream home amid wildfires' Monte Lake family loses dream home amid wildfires
Fri, Jul 28: A smoking foundation is all that’s left of a Monte Lake family’s dream home amid wildfires that have ravaged the province. It was the only home that burned on their street. Nadia Stewart reports – Jul 28, 2017

After almost two weeks of watching and waiting, thousands of people from Williams Lake were finally allowed to go back home on Thursday.

Some orders remain in place however, and all returning residents are still under evacuation alert.

“We could have lost our town,” said Williams Lake Mayor Walt Cobb, choking back tears on Thursday as residents started to arrive home.

“It’s really really scary to tell people that they have to get out,” he added. “Not only for them but for the fact that we don’t know what’s going to happen at the end of the day.”

Wildfire activity continues in the area and air quality remains poor. The fires in the region are not 100 per cent contained.

WATCH: While residents of Williams Lake were told they can finally go home today, another fire has forced new evacuations in the Clinton area. Neetu Garcha reports.

Click to play video: 'Good and bad news on wildfire front' Good and bad news on wildfire front
Good and bad news on wildfire front – Jul 27, 2017

MAP: Where wildfires are burning around B.C.

But as things slowly start getting back to normal in Williams Lake, other communities are still on evacuation order and residents know they don’t have homes to return to.

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In Loon Lake, it’s now estimated that about 60 structures have been destroyed, including the volunteer fire hall.

Homeowners in the small community even took matters into their own hands, going into restricted areas and protecting their homes themselves.

READ MORE: New drone footage shows homes destroyed in Loon Lake due to wildfire

For residents of Cache Creek, Clinton, Ashcroft and the surrounding areas, the aggressive Elephant Hill wildfire continues to cause concern.

The massive blaze is estimated to be 67,698 hectares in size and only about 30 per cent contained.

WATCH: Williams Lake residents gradually bring life back to the city

 

Click to play video: 'Williams Lake residents gradually come home after wildfires' Williams Lake residents gradually come home after wildfires
Williams Lake residents gradually come home after wildfires – Jul 28, 2017

Due to recent growth on the fire on the west and north sides, the B.C. Wildfire Service says the hectares will likely increase when visibility improves and better estimations can be conducted.

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With a return to warm and dry conditions, officials say fire behaviour for this wildfire has markedly increased.

FULL COVERAGE: Wildfires burning around B.C.

The weather forecast is also not helping the fire fight across the province.

Global News meteorologist Yvonne Schalle says a low front is going to work its way across the province this weekend, bringing the possibility of thunderstorms.

“Likely most of the rainfall will be north of Williams Lake, that’s where we will see the precipitation and we’re all looking at the risk of thunderstorms,” said Schalle. “The concern leading into next week though for the southern interior will be temperatures on the rise. We’ve got that heat pushing in from the south of us and we could be into the mid- and upper-30s leading into the beginning of next week.”

PHOTOS: Fire damage in 108 Mile House

 

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Pat Bell | Global News
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A number of homes near Monte Lake remain on evacuation order today, due to the fast-moving Martin Mountain wildfire.

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The fire broke out quickly on Wednesday, prompting an evacuation order and a local state of emergency.

While the B.C. Wildfire Service has not confirmed how this wildfire started, witnesses tell Global News they believe a flicked cigarette started the fire.

WATCH: Plywood prices hike cost of rebuilding after wildfires

Click to play video: 'Plywood prices hike cost of rebuilding after wildfires' Plywood prices hike cost of rebuilding after wildfires
Plywood prices hike cost of rebuilding after wildfires – Jul 28, 2017

“We’ve seen an extraordinary level of activity, particularly in southern B.C. over the last few weeks,” said B.C. wildfire chief information officer Kevin Skrepnek.

“Almost 150 fires burning across the province, lightning potentially in the forecast, wind certainly in the forecast, with all these factors, we’re already in an incredibly volatile situation so the last thing we want to be contending with at this point are preventable human-caused fires.”

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“When it’s this dry out, even the heat coming off an exhaust pipe, off of a vehicle driving through tall grass, something like that, all of that can potentially start a fire,” added Skrepnek.

Residents in the Cariboo Regional District can now sign up for alerts to get notifications on their phone when any wildfire situation changes.

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