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October 27, 2017 4:32 pm

Lighter Winds Expected and More Help on the Way

Monday, July 17, 2017 @ 2:04 PM

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.







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