B.C. wildfires Friday: Season now third worst in burned land, new evacuations ordered
B.C.’s 2018 wildfire season is now the third worst on record, as far as burned hectares are concerned.
The wildfires raging across much of the Interior have now burned more than 760,000 hectares, and cost the province more than $300 million.
The number of bodies on the ground fighting the fire has grown, too, with 4,200 personnel battling the blazes, including 922 out-of-province firefighters.
The evacuation situation also remains of serious concern.
As of Friday, there were 43 evacuation orders in place across the province, displacing about 4,400 people from their homes.
A further 23,500 people have been told to be ready to leave on a moment’s notice, due to 52 evacuation alerts.
New evacuation oders
Among the evacuees are occupants and visitors at the Cathedral Lakes Lodge.
The popular destination just south of Keremeos was put under an evacuation order for the second time this month on Friday.
Last time, the order was due to the Placer Mountain wildfire; this time, it’s due to the 100-hectare, out of control Cool Creek wildfire.
A new evacuation order has also been issued in the Vanderhoof area due to the Tezzeron Lake wildfire, which has grown to more than 8,000 hectares in size.
That order affects Tezzeron Lake and Inzana Lake, located about 100 km northwest of Vanderhoof.
Those residents are being told to head to the evacuation centre in Prince George, where nearly 3,000 evacuees have already registered so far.
And a new evacuation alert has been issued by the Regional District of the Central Kootenay for properties in Edgewood, on the west shore of Lower Arrow Lake, due to the Mt. O’Leary wildfire.
However, in a spot of bright news amid the flames, an evacuation order for properties on the west side of Fraser Lake related to the massive Shovel Lake fire has been partially downgraded to an evacuation alert.
Crews are continuing to make progress on the Shovel Lake fire, B.C.’s second-largest, which is currently more than 91,000 hectares in size.
Improved visibility from smoke has allowed crews to use aircraft for the first time in several days to fight the fire, and they have made progress in creating a perimeter around the blaze.
WATCH: B.C. Wildfires: Evacuation order issued near Vanderhoof
Neighbours helping neighbours
Amid the smoke and the stress generated by the wildfires, many in B.C.’s Interior communities are turning to one another for support.
In the Burns Lake area, which is being devastated by multiple large wildfires, there are thousands of animals that need help — a mission that’s bringing people together.
“The outpouring of the community, everyone [is] asking just where they can help what they can do how they can get involved,” said animal rescue volunteer Deanna Bell.
There are an estimated 6,000 displaced cattle in the area, along with 3,000 pigs and goats, and a large number of horses.
Feeding them is expensive work, and a GoFundMe has sprung up, collecting about $4,000 so far.
“Right now, it’s still kind of in the emergency stage where everybody is just trying to get their animals to safe ground but looking ahead to the future, and how we’re going to manage that,” Bell said.
“I think the big thing is getting a plan in place and figuring out how we’re going to do that.”
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