Lighter Winds Expected and More Help on the Way
Prince George, B.C. – Cooler temperatures and less active wind have helped fire fighting efforts in the Cariboo .
There are 159 wildfires burning in B.C. , 17 of them sparked yesterday.
That number of fires is down from previous days. Chief Information Officer Kevin Skrepnek says that change reflects both progress and the fact some fires have now been grouped together “We have made progress in getting a number of the smaller fires out. In a few cases, it is because we have amalgamated a few fires together, just as a matter of process because we’re treating them as one incident, or because the fires have burned into each other, but for the most part, that decrease in the number of total fires burning is an indication of progress.” The Wildwood fire now encompasses three fires, and is estimated to be at 13 thousand hectares. It is 20% contained.
There is some good news on the White Lake fire, which was threatening Williams Lake. The wind is expected to shift to the south which would mean that fire will be pushed back in on itself. “Lighter winds (are) expected today which is a positive in terms of fire activity” says Skrepnek “but it also means we are likely to have a bit more smoke in the area with those winds not pushing the smoke out. ”
A fire camp set up at the Williams Lake Airport has about 700 staff on site, along with RCMP “People here are sleeping on site” says Skrepnek.
On Wednesday, 50 wildfire specialists from Australia will be arriving in B.C. to assist in the battling of the blazes. They are not frontline fire fighters says Skrepnek, rather, they are specialists and support staff who can relieve their B.C. counterparts.
Firefighters have been working hard to ensure a hydro pole which provides not only electricity but cell and internet service in the region is spared from flames. Assistant Deputy Minister for emergency Management B.C. Robert Turner, says if that pole is lost, it would cut communications from Riske Creek to Bella Coola “People who are in that area need to be aware, they could lose this service and they should be taking adequate precautions to prepare for that. That may include for example going to the bank machine to make sure you have cash if the lines go down and you didn’t have the data connection bank machines would not work. It would also be the case for automated gas stations. But also let people outside the area know they would not be able to reach you and they should not necessarily be concerned. So we are talking about populations that are not under evacuation order, they are not under evacuation alert, but they could still be impacted by wildfire.”
Canadian Armed Forces have been delivering satellite phones to First Nations communities in at risk areas.