Little Change in Wildfire Situation
Prince George, B.C. – Although there were 30 new wildfires sparked yesterday in the southeast portion of B.C., there has been little change in the status of wildfires in the Cariboo.
Only one of the new fires sparked yesterday has become significant, and that fire is the one burning near Joe Rich, about 20 kilometers east of Kelowna. Called the Philpott Road fire, it is estimated to be 380 hectares, and grew rapidly because of wind that was recorded at up to 70 km per hour. The fire sparked an evacuation order, forcing about 1100 people from their homes, 264 of whom have already registered for support.
The major fires in the Cariboo, saw little change when it comes to activity, but more accurate mapping has now pegged the Plateau fire, north of Highway 20 at 492 thousand hectares. That one fire is nearing the size of Prince Edward Island. The Elephant Hill fire is now estimated to be 175 thousand hectares in size and is 35% contained, while the Hanceville -Riske Creek fire is estimated to be 227 thousand hectares.
There is some good news, as highway 20 is now fully open. That highway has been closed off and on since the wildfires started causing major problems in the Cariboo. It had been opened single lane for evacuation purposes, but is now, fully accessible from Williams Lake through to Bella Coola.
Numerous evacuation orders have been rescinded over the past few days, and daily media conference calls which provided a one stop shop for media to get information, are being scaled back. Kevin Skrepnek, Chief Wildfire Information Officer with BC Wildfire Service says that doesn’t mean the fire season is nearing an end “Certainly if the situation changes we will start these calls up again on a daily basis, and all the agencies are still working 24-7 on what’s going on. This was just seen as things are slightly less dynamic on a day to day basis.”
There continues to be 20 evacuation orders in place in B.C., impacting 3,600 residents. Another 37 evacuation alerts are in effect, impacting about 12 thousand people.
As of today, there are 157 fires burning in B.C.