August 20, 2017 2:11 pm
Updated: August 20, 2017 10:09 pm

B.C. wildfire status Sunday: Biggest fires remain same size despite wind

WATCH: Hundreds of Loon Lake residents returned home today after being evacuated by the Elephant Hill wildfire last month. Jennifer Palma reports.

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No new major fires were sparked in British Columbia and two of the province’s biggest wildfires haven’t grown much despite being fanned by strong winds.

Kevin Skrepnek of the BC Wildfire Service says the winds arrived in the province on Friday as forecast but weren’t as strong as feared.

He says there was some rain, cooler temperatures and higher humidity.

Skrepnek said the Hanceville-Riske Creek fire northwest of Williams Lake was no bigger Saturday than it was Friday, remaining at 218,000 hectares.

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The Elephant Hill fire also remained the same size at 168,092 hectares and is now believed to be 25 per cent contained.

Full B.C. wildfire coverage

They predict another cold front to hit the region around Thursday this week. They say the fire burning near Kleena Kleene has been a problem as winds have pushed it east towards the community.

After more than a month out of their homes, residents of Loon Lake will be allowed to go back Sunday. The Thompson Nicola Regional District downgraded its evacuation order to an alert for properties in the area. People will be able to return home at one Sunday afternoon with crews making sure utilities like power and water are up and ready to go.

But some locals are concerned about what they may be coming back to and what it means for their livelihoods going forward.

READ MORE: B.C. wildfires map 2017: Current location of wildfires around the province

Christine Watt, owner of a ranch on Loon Lake Road, is dealing with the aftermath of controlled burns that have destroyed portions of her 700-acre ranch.

“I can’t get this land back,” she said. “There’s no way I can get this land back. There’s no way I can get these trees back. There’s no way I can get the grass back.”

Watt’s husband’s family has had the ranch since 1948. She says it’ll never be the same.

“It’s ruined our property values here. Who wants to buy property that’s this badly burned?” she said.

“It’s just horrible. How do we put cattle out on this and not worry about these trees falling down on them? We don’t have the ability to cut these trees down and make this land usable again.”

– With files from CFJC and The Canadian Press

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