A wildfire burning near the community of Ashcroft forced the evacuation of scores of properties on Saturday night, as crews continued to battle more than 300 fires around B.C.
The Thompson-Nicola Regional District expanded an evacuation order to include a total of 110 properties in Electoral Area “I” (Blue Sky Country) due to the Tremont Creek wildfire. The district has put another 675 properties in the area and in Electoral Area “J” (Copper Desert Country) on evacuation alert.
The Tremont Creek fire is currently about 8.5 kilometres southeast of Ashcroft and has grown to 5,000 hectares in size. Hot and dry conditions along with strong winds prompted firefighters to stay on scene through the night.
The Village of Ashcroft and Ashcroft Indian Band have also issued evacuation alerts due to the fire.
The Tremont Creek fire is just one of 37 fires large or dangerous enough to be classified as a “wildfire of note” across the province.
As of Sunday, 20 evacuation orders and another 51 evacuation alerts were in place due to fires around B.C.
Emergency Management BC said Sunday that accommodations for wildfire evacuees were filling up, and encouraged people make contingency plans in advance of possible evacuations. It also urged people who had self-evacuated due to smoke to return home.
Several of the serious fires are burning in the Kamloops area, including the massive 45,000-hectare Sparks Lake fire, which has forced nearly 300 people from their homes. It remained out of control Sunday but has seen little growth in recent days.
To the northwest, crews continued to battle several stubborn fires near 100 Mile House in the Cariboo region.
On Friday, Interior Health moved to begin proactively evacuating residents from long-term care and assisted-living facilities in the District of 100 Mile House, moving nearly 120 people.
The 14,000-hectare Flat Lake fire, burning west of the community, forced residents of the Gustafsen Lake and Neilson Lake area from their homes Saturday afternoon.
Some ranchers in the area have defied evacuation orders, opting instead to stay and try and protect their own property.
“My grandfather saved this place in the 1920s with a horse and cowhides. So I’m sure we can do it with their support and the machinery we’ve got,” Rancher Keith Cunningham told Global News.
“We’ve got lots of equipment on hand so we’re feeling fairly comfortable, unless they backburn towards us.”
Not far away, residents of Canim Lake also defied evacuation orders as a stubborn fire continued to burn on the lake’s south shore.
“This fire just keeps on going. It was almost under control, then they left it alone, then it went right out of control again. Now it’s reaching right across an entire mountain,” resident Randy Brauer told Global News on Friday.
Structural protection crews have set up dozens of water pumps and sprinklers to soak homes in the hopes of preventing them from catching fire.
As of Sunday, the Canim Lake fire was classified as “active,” while crews worked on building fire guards and attacking the fire’s southwest corner.