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Cooler, wetter weather reduces wildfire activity in northeast B.C.

Fire fuels remain ‘very susceptible to ignition,’ however, wildfire service warns
An extreme fire warning sign is shown along Highway 97 toward Fort Nelson outside the Charlie Lake Fire Hall near Fort St. John, B.C., on Monday, May 13, 2024. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jesse Boily

The BC Wildfire Service says cooler, wetter conditions are allowing crews to make progress in their firefight in the province’s northeast where thousands of evacuees remain out of their homes for a second week.

The service says in an update on Tuesday that the more seasonable weather has reduced fire activity and is expected to persist throughout the week.

But it’s warning that despite the favourable conditions, much of the province remains “unseasonably dry” due to the ongoing drought.

It says that means fire fuels remain “very susceptible to ignition” and wildfires can spread rapidly.

The service says that most spring fires are typically caused by human activity and is asking people to do their best to minimize this.

The BC Wildfire Service dashboard shows there are 113 active wildfires across the province, 19 of which are known or suspected to have been human-caused, with 11 blamed on lightning.

The online data shows nine fires are classified as out of control, including the Parker Lake and Patry Creek fires that have been threatening the evacuated community of Fort Nelson.

The town and neighbouring Fort Nelson First Nation in B.C.’s far northeast corner were evacuated of about 4,700 people on May 10, with most now waiting out the fires in Fort St. John, 380 kilometres to the south.

The Northern Rockies Regional Municipality, which includes Fort Nelson, said in an update on Tuesday that it was processing access permits for essential services.

Mayor Rob Fraser said on Sunday that four homes had been destroyed and six other properties had been damaged by the fires and there was no official word on when evacuees could return.

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The Canadian Press