Wildfires out of control in British Columbia lead to evacuation orders, alerts and smoky skies

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As smoky skies fill much of British Columbia’s Lower Mainland and Fraser Valley, 191 wildfires continue to burn across the province, putting hundreds on evacuation alert, as well as orders evacuation in the Peace region.

Currently, five of the active wildfires are considered notable: the Flood Falls Trail and Heather Lake wildfires at the Coastal Fire Station; the Fry Creek Wildfire at the Southeast Fire Hall; and the Battleship Mountain and Bearhole Lake wildfires at the Prince George Fire Hall.

An air quality advisory has been issued for Metro Vancouver and the Fraser Valley due to high concentrations of fine particulate matter from wildfire smoke in British Columbia and the United States.

Evacuation order for Laidlaw, BC

On Sunday, the Fraser Valley Regional District released an evacuation order for a handful of properties in Laidlaw due to the wildfire near the Flood Falls Trail.

Laidlaw is a small unincorporated settlement along Highway 1, west of Hope.

Four properties on the south side of the highway have been ordered to evacuate.

“Due to the hot, dry conditions and gusty winds, there is an increase in fire behavior resulting in an elevated fire hazard,” according to a district news release.

The Flood Falls Trail wildfire has now grown to 4.58 square kilometers and has prompted the District of Hope and Fraser Valley Regional District to issue an evacuation alert.

Residents should gather all essential items, including medications and important documents, fill their vehicles’ gas tanks, organize potential housing and implement a plan to move livestock safely, the district said. in a press release.

Residents can reduce the risk of fire around their home by keeping firewood away from their home; remove debris from their roofs; keep a grass length of less than 10 centimeters; remove flammable appliances, such as barbecues; and remove leaves from under decks, balconies and patios, according to the statement.

Evacuation order for Hudson’s Hope, B.C.

A evacuation order was issued Saturday for the town of Hudson’s Hope, located southwest of Fort St. John in the Peace region.

The Battleship Mountain wildfire, which has ravaged 242 square kilometers, is burning out of control about 50 kilometers west of the community of about 850 people.

“We’re trying to get as many people out of the area as possible,” Mayor Dave Heiberg said.

“Fire is very aggressive. It does not want to be tamed.”

Battleship Mountain wildfire burns 50 kilometers west of Hudson’s Hope, British Columbia (British Columbia Wildfire Service)

Peace River Regional District also issued evacuation orders for properties outside of Hudson’s Hope, in electoral districts B and E.

A visitor center has opened in Ft. St John and, on social media, people in nearby communities offered support, shelter and space to store livestock.

More than 65 firefighters, 12 helicopters and 16 pieces of heavy equipment are battling the blaze, which was first discovered on August 30.

BC Wildfire Information Officer Shannon Street said the Battleship Mountain fire has grown significantly over the past 48 hours.

“There is no real end in sight for rainfall in the forecast, so we expect this growth to continue,” she said, adding that the summer season has been very dry and the Recent temperatures have been above the seasonal average.

“During the day, we don’t get those cooler September temperatures that we normally would have.”

She says crews are busy installing sprinklers to protect structures like the WAC Bennett Dam, as well as the community of Hudson’s Hope.

Evacuation alerts remain for Eastgate

The small community of Eastgate, near Manning Provincial Park in southern British Columbia, is still in evacuation alert due to the Heather Lake Fire, which is burning about three miles south of the resort town of Manning Park.

“An evacuation alert has been issued to prepare you to evacuate your premises or belongings if necessary,” said Sean Vaisler, director of emergency operations for the Okanagan-Similkameen Regional District.

The fire has now spread to 86.63 km2 and is being fought by Canadian and US wildfire agencies as the fire has spread across the international border.

The Heather Lake Fire has triggered evacuation alerts for Eastgate, B.C., and sections of Manning Provincial Park in southern B.C. (British Columbia Wildfire Service)

Smoky sky warning

Sunday afternoon, the eastbound lanes of Highway 1 were closed between Chilliwack and Hope for a section of 35 kilometers due to a fire burning nearby.

A detour is in place for eastbound traffic via Highway 9 and Highway 7, but several motorists have said on social media that the congestion is causing hours of waits to get to the detour.

A wildfire burning near Highway 1 between Chilliwack and Hope on Sunday, September 11, 2022 forced the closure of eastbound lanes for a 35 kilometer stretch. (British Columbia Wildfire Service)

In Metro Vancouver, the Fraser Valley and Greater Victoria, skies turned gray due to wildfire smoke.

A fire burning at a wood recycling facility in Vancouver is also contributing to poor air quality in several municipalities, including Burnaby, Richmond, New Westminster, Surrey and Coquitlam, according to the organization Metro Vancouver.

It issued an air quality advisory, warning of high concentrations of fine particles. It indicates that poor air quality is expected to persist through the weekend.

Skies turned a mix of orange and gray in Victoria on Saturday as smoke from wildfires across British Columbia blanketed the south coast. (Georgie Smyth/CBC News)

Metro Vancouver says fine particles refer to solid or liquid droplets that can easily penetrate indoors due to their small size.

He advises people to postpone or reduce outdoor physical activity, particularly if breathing is uncomfortable, including for children and pregnant women as well as people with underlying conditions like lung disease, asthma and diabetes.

Metro Vancouver says air conditioning can offer some relief from pollution, and public buildings like libraries can act as havens in some communities.

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