Wildfire officials are sending a strong message Friday for residents that have been ordered to leave their homes due to encroaching fires.
When the massive White Rock Lake fire jumped Highway 97 Thursday night and roared towards homes in the Monte Lake area, some residents who had remained behind in the evacuation order zone had to be rescued.
“We gave people ample notice, but those who chose to stay put my staff at tremendous risk in the path of the fire to get them out of harm’s way,” Scott Rennick, BC Wildfire Incident Commander said Thursday night on Twitter.
“Do not put my people in the position that some others did today.”
The Wildfire Service said efforts were taken away from actively suppressing the White Rock Lake wildfire and protecting structures and were redirected towards tactically evacuating those who choose to remain in evacuation order areas.
The White Rock Lake fire is now an estimated 45,000 hectares in size.
It has destroyed some homes and structures in the Monte Lake area, but the exact number is not known at this time.
“Please do not put yourselves and others at risk. If you are under an evacuation order LEAVE immediately,” Rennick said.
Officials with the Columbia Shuswap Regional District echoed this message Thursday, saying they know it is difficult for some residents to leave behind not only belongings but also animals and livestock.
They are asking anyone with concerns to contact them so they can formulate a plan.
“You’re putting yourself at risk, you’re putting your family at risk and the other responder’s lives at risk who may need to go in and get you out,” Tracy Hughes with the District said.
In the past 24 hours, most of the fire growth has been along the northeastern and eastern flanks, as well as some growth along the southeast flank.
Wildfire crews said they are seeing spotting upwards of one kilometre ahead of the main fire front so it is very aggressive.
“When we say there’s been aggressive growth on a fire, it means we’re seeing Rank 3 and Rank 4 fire behaviour, so it’s an aggressive flame front, meaning it’s moving quite quickly through the timber and through the fuels in the area,” Shannon Street with the BC Wildfire Service said.
“There’s also areas where it’s crowning into the tops of the trees as well.”