May 28, 2018 10:47 am
Updated: May 28, 2018 4:34 pm

Huge wildfire burning north of Fort St. John forces evacuation order

Warm, dry weather is fuelling wildfires across the province. Nadia Stewart reports.

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A huge wildfire burning north of Fort St. John has forced an evacuation order for some residents and a closure of crown land in the area.

The Tommy Lakes wildfire is now an estimated 16,954 hectares in size after merging with the Beatton Lake wildfire on Friday.

It is zero per cent contained.

The Peace River Regional District issued an evacuation order for Electoral Area B on Saturday.

WATCH: Intensity of huge B.C. wildfire caught on camera

The area starts at the junction of the Beatton Airport Road, Birch Road and Two Creeks Road, following north along the Beatton Airport Road and ending at the bridge on the Beatton River; then southeast along the Beatton River stopping at Two Creeks Road near the Beatton River; and southwest along the Two Creeks Road returning to the junction of the Beatton Airport Road, Birch Road and Two Creeks Road.

The evacuation area due to the Tommy Lakes wildfire.

On Sunday, an area restriction was put in place for Crown land near the wildfire.

There are currently 90 firefighters, seven helicopters and seven pieces of heavy equipment fighting this blaze. The primary objective at this time is to establish guards around the fire and conduct controlled burning operations in order to protect oil and gas infrastructure in the region.

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Crews continue to work Monday to contain fir growth to the north of the North Nig Road and build a firel ine west of the Tommy Lake Road to the Beatton River. They are also working to hold the perimeter and mop-up along the Beatton Road. Additional Crews continue with blacklining operations and mop-up along the South Nig connector. Sprinklers will be installed on the bridge at the 56 kilometres mark on the Tommy Lakes Forest Service Road.

READ MORE: Progress made on Xusum Creek fire, but dry weather still poses ‘extreme risk’ in parts of B.C.

B.C.’s tinder-dry weather is not helping fire crews battling wildfires that are burning thousands of hectares.

“What has been somewhat unusual has been the fire behaviour we’ve been seeing out there, how intensely they’ve been burning, how quickly they’ve grown is more of a pattern we’d be seeing later in the summer,” Kevin Skrepnek with the BC Wildfire Service said.

“We’ve had unseasonably hot and dry conditions and we’re expecting that to continue over the weekend and that’s really been exacerbating these fires.”

Two other fires that officials are keeping a close eye on are the Allie Lake fire, which is burning northwest of Kamloops, and the Xusum Creek fire near Lillooet.

Those fires have already forced evacuation orders for 14 properties and evacuation alerts for another 51.

— With files from Jon Azpiri

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