June 17, 2018 6:05 pm
Updated: June 17, 2018 8:03 pm

Crews battling 25-hectare wildfire near Mackenzie in B.C.’s northeast

A streak of hot, dry weather early in the season is already causing headaches for wildfire crews.

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Wildfire season is heating up again, with crews tackling a 25-hectare blaze near the town of Mackenzie in British Columbia’s northeast, in the region of Fraser-Fort George.

The fire is burning nine kilometres south of Mackenzie and briefly cut the town off Saturday night, said BC Wildfire Service fire information officer Ryan Turcot.

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“Last night, for a little while, Highway 39 was closed, just due to visible smoke from the wildfire’s proximity to that highway,” he said.  “But the highway was reopened last night at around 11 p.m.”

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The fire is burning within the jurisdiction of Mackenzie’s fire department, which has taken the lead in containing it.

Turcot said provincial crews are also assisting “with 13 firefighting personnel, as well as support from heavy equipment, as well as a helicopter.”

“Last night we did also have air tankers action that fire,” Turcot added. “It has not been requested back to the fire today.”

No structures appear to be threatened at this point, but Mackenzie resident Kevin Joutert told Global News that there is some concern that it could spread.

“The flames and all that stuff were quite tremendous, and they’re pretty close to our industrial area, like we have sawmills and… a massive log yard that’s probably about four kilometers from that site,” he said.

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Turcot says it’s not yet clear how the fire started, but one resident posted to social media, suggesting it may have originated as a controlled burn.

There have been 278 wildfires recorded across B.C. since the beginning of the fire season.

Turcot said crews are closely monitoring the weather, with a heat wave set to blanket most of the province.

He said a damp start to June has lowered the fire danger rating across much of B.C., but that could change by next weekend.

-With files from Michelle Morton

© 2018 Global News, a division of Corus Entertainment Inc.

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