There have been over 1,000 fires in B.C. this wildfire season, according to fire information officer Ryan Turcott.
Compared to the last 10 years, that number remains low – while 2016 had only 1,050 fires, 2015 had 1,858 and 2009 had 3,064 fires. Fighting the wildfires has cost the province $285.2 million, said Turcott.
RCMP spokesperson Dawn Roberts said that officers helped evacuate regions threatened by fires near Canim Lake even before an official evacuation order came down.
“[Those fires] were seen by our members in 100 Mile House who made the tactical decision to conduct a series of evacuations in that area,” said Roberts. “Late last night, increased fire behaviour has resulted in us moving a series of checkpoints in the Quesnel and Alexis Creek area due to fire threat.”
Roberts said that RCMP are on the ground speaking with Shambhala Music Festival organizers. The festival, which is now continuing into Sunday night after having been cancelled on Saturday night, has seen some attendees choosing to leave.
“The area remains under evacuation alert,” said Roberts. “Evacuation plans remain in place and we’ll be closely monitoring fire activity.”
Ed Miska, executive director of engineering services at the transportation, noted that there is “a robust traffic control” plan in place for Shambhala. Roberts said that so far, all indications are that those leaving are doing so in an orderly fashion.
Miska provided an update on highway closures:
- Hwy. 6 Nelway border crossing to Hwy. 3 junction
- Hwy. 20 Riske Creek to Hanceville is closed but open to eastbound evacuees
- Hwy. 20 Tweedsmuir Lodge to Kleena Kleene closed but open to eastbound evacuees
- Nazko Road is closed 5-60 kilometres west of Quesnel
- Hwy. 99 closed from Marble Canyon to Hwy. 97, although pilot car service is available for locals
- Hwy. 97 closed from Clinton to Chasm only open to northbound evacuees
- Hwy. 97 closed from Hwy. 99 to Clinton
Miska cautioned drivers to be extra careful driving on even open highways.
“When you’re driving through smoky conditions please slow down and turn on your headlights,” said Miska. “That lets you see better what’s ahead of you but also turns on your taillights so those coming upon you from the rear can make you out better.”
He also warned drivers to watch out for extra wildlife on the roads.