August 18, 2018 2:42 pm
Updated: August 19, 2018 12:53 am

B.C. Wildfire Saturday: Kimberley remains on evacuation alert amid growing Meachen Creek fire

WATCH: Thousands of fire evacuees and firefighters are nervously watching the weather this weekend hoping it won't hinder efforts to battle the hundreds of wildfires burning out of control in British Columbia. Aaron McArthur reports on the fight to contain the Shovel Lake and Meachen Creek fires.

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Kimberley, B.C. remains on evacuation alert following the rapid growth of the Meachen Creek wildfire.

The notice was issued to residents on Thursday night, warning them of the growing fire which is now 5,685 hectares in size.

The fire has grown quickly in recent days and Kimberley Mayor Don McCormick is hoping that weather conditions will offer some respite.

WATCH: Kimberley evacuation alert

“Mother Nature is cooperating this morning,” McCormick said in a Facebook post on Saturday. “Higher humidity, low winds, lower temperature — all things that help fighting the fires. The only thing that would be better, weather-wise, is rain.”

READ MORE: ‘No major rain in sight’: B.C. not expecting any break in fire fight


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The alert is in effect for around 7,500 people in the community and surrounding areas. Interior Health is evacuating seniors from care facilities as a precaution. Officials say all residents must be ready to leave at a moment’s notice.

Mayor McCormick said people were initially rattled by the alert, but have calmed somewhat in the days since.

“That was only because we don’t get alerts that often, and trying to understand what that means takes a bit of time, and we have 7,500 people in town, so getting that word out took a bit of time,”he said.

“Once it was out everybody understood that the alert just meant get your emergency kits ready and be patient.”

McCormick said officials have hand delivered evacuation alert notices to about half of the city’s 4,000 homes.

“Well, evacuating 7,500 people is not easy,” Kimberley Fire Chief Rick Prasad said. “It’s all about good communication, making sure they’re prepared and ready to go when the time comes.”

In a spot of good news, the Thompson Nicola Regional District (TNRD) has ended an evacuation alert for properties north of Highway 97C that was issued on Aug. 9 due to the Gottfriedsen Mountain Wildfire.

However, a new evacuation alert has been issued due to a fire west of Keremeos.

READ MORE: B.C. wildfire update Friday: Entire city of Kimberley under evacuation alert

Officials sent out the warning Friday for the Cool Creek wildfire, which exploded in size in a matter of hours. The fire was just 100 hectares on Thursday night but grew to 6,000 hectares on Friday when it merged with two other fires.

The alert does not impact towns or homes near Highway 3, but is of concern to ranchers and cattle in the area as well as nearby campers.

WATCH: Long-term effects of lingering B.C. wildfire smoke

A wildfire in Washington state, meanwhile, has crossed the border into B.C., with the Horns Mountain wildfire now burning in a remote region between Grand Forks and Trail. The blaze is an estimated 523 hectares in size.

U.S. officials say the fire has spread around 40 to 50 hectares inside the province. The fire is 15 per cent contained.

READ MORE: Horns Mountain wildfire crosses border into B.C.

There were more than 560 wildfires burning across the province on Saturday morning. Of those, 56 are considered wildfires of note.

Wildfire officials say the greatest area of concern is the corridor through central B.C., connecting Smithers, Prince George and the northern Cariboo region.

The Shovel Lake fire, located 30 km northeast of Burns Lake, has grown to more than 78,000 hectares in size. On Saturday, the B.C. Wildfire Service said it is conducting planned ignitions on the blaze along with the Island Lake Fire.

The Nadina Lake fire, located 63 km southwest of Burns Lake, is 46,000 hectares in size.

The 38,000-hectare Alkali Lake fire burns five km northwest of Telegraph Creek. The Kitimat-Stikine Regional District issued an evacuation order and alert for Telegraph Creek, Glenora and the area along the Highway 51 corridor to the edge of Dease Lake.

The province has announced it will match all donations made to the Red Cross until Oct. 12 to help people affected by the wildfires, capping its contributions at $20 million.

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

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