The Narscoli Creek Fire Aug. 9, as seen from the 1400A Road, which is accessed via Marsh Road west of Quesnel. Danica Marie Freel photo

UPDATED: A comprehensive look at evacuation orders, alerts and fires in the Quesnel Fire Zone, Aug. 11

Approximately 5,986 properties are currently on evacuation alert in the Quesnel Fire Zone

UPDATE:

As of 6:24 p.m. on Aug. 11, an evacuation order was issued for the south west Narcosli Creek Area. The order affects 33 properties, and residents are being advised to follow evacuation routes to the Prince George Emergency Social Services Reception Centre.

ORIGINAL STORY:

Approximately 5,986 properties are currently on evacuation alert in the Quesnel Fire Zone, while another 901 properties near the north western Cariboo Regional District boundary are on an evacuation order.

The Cariboo Regional District (CRD) put out an evacuation alert for 901 properties from the northwestern boundary of the CRD to just west of Nazko this morning (Aug. 11) at around 9 a.m. The order expands on an Aug. 8 order to 93 properties in the area.

Emily Epp, the communications manager for the CRD, says the alert was sent out due the aggressive behaviour of several fires in the area, including the Shag Creek fire and the fires at Tweedsmuir Provincial Park.

READ MORE: Tsacha Lake evacuation order expanded to include 901 properties

The CRD also put out an evacuation alert for the area west of Highway 97 to the Michelle Bazaeko Forest Service Road (FSR) area near Quesnel around 11 a.m. this morning. The communities of Nazko, Baker Creek, Blackwater, Ten Mile Lake, Cinema, Moose Heights and Strathnaver are all effected by this alert, but only areas on the west side of Highway 97. Approximately 2,077 properties and 2,000 people are effected by the alert.

Epp says the alert is due to a number of fires in the area, but primarily the fire east of the Blackwater river and 72 kilometres west of Quesnel. “I think there’s a forecast for some thunderstorms to come through with some wind today, so there’s concern that there could be some increased fire activity on those fires,” Epp says.

READ MORE: Evacuation alert issued west of Highway 97 to Michelle Bazaeko Forest Service Road area

The alert west of Highway 97 follows an evacuation alert released yesterday by the City of Quesnel and the CRD for the north Narcosli Creek area to West Quesnel, with all city properties west of the Fraser River on evacuation alert. The city released a press release this afternoon confirming the alert remains in effect. This alert effects 2,137 properties in the CRD and 1,772 civic addresses in the City of Quesnel.

The alert was issued due to the Narcosli Creek fire burning 31 kilometres southwest of Quesnel.

READ MORE: Evacuation alert issued from Narcosli Creek north to West Quesnel

City of Quesnel Mayor, Bob Simpson, says the alert remains in effect because overnight Thursday Aug. 9 into Friday Aug. 10, the Narcosli Creek fire “took a run at the city. And all of the fuel and all of the potential for it to run that way again still exists.

“So, we’ve had good news over night. There are substantially more crews involved, more heavy equipment, more helicopters and the weather is in our favour. But it will take 24 to 48 hours of those conditions to get some containment on that fire.”

Simpson also spoke with Doug Donaldson, the B.C. Minister of Forests, Lands and Natural Resource Operations, and Rural Development, last night. Simpson says the province’s firefighting resources are taxed, with nearly 500 fires burning across the province and serious fires in every jurisdiction.

“What I wanted to do was chat with the minister about the fact we had a fire that changed behaviour from a non-concern to a very serious and imminent concern, and make sure that any briefing he was involved with, he knew directly that that fire had become a potential high-risk interface fire … we certainly saw significant resources being put to the fire subsequent to that conversation.”

Fires impacting evacuation alerts and orders in the Quesnel Fire Zone

The Narcosli Creek fire remains at an estimated 3,100 hectares. Robyn Clark, a Fire Information Officer (FIO) for the Cariboo Fire Centre, says that the fire experienced minimal growth overnight, but because they were “smoked out” the fire crews have not been able to confirm the exact size of the fire.

“We have increased up to 75 firefighters there, four helicopters and six pieces of heavy equipment,” says Clark. The number of firefighters was increased from 30 firefighters on site yesterday. Crews worked overnight with heavy equipment to build guards. Today they are working to build a guard around the western flank of the fire, toward the northern flank. The fire remains zero per cent contained.

East of the Blackwater River and approximately 72 kilometres west of Quesnel, the Blackwater River fire remains approximately 2,000 hectares in size. Heavy equipment was used throughout the night, and ground crews are currently working to establish a guard around the southern flank. There are currently 16 firefighters, one helicopter and six heavy equipment on site. It is also zero per cent contained.

The Shag Creek wildfire to the west of the Quesnel Fire Zone, north of the Itcha Ilgachuz Provincial Park, is currently estimated at 7,000 hectares, though Clark says it’s too smokey to know the exact size. There are no crews currently working on the fire as it remains too aggressive for crews to work safely. Clark says BC Wildfire Service personnel are continuing to monitor the fire.

Two fires approximately 30 kilometres west of the Blackwater River fire have also merged together. The China Bluff fire and the North Baezaeko fires merged yesterday to form one fire of an estimated 300 hectares. Clark says this fire was also covered by the extended evacuation order and alert this morning.

Environment Canada forecast

According to Environment Canada, there is a risk of thunderstorms tonight, with wind gusts of up to 50 km an hour. The wind is forecast to remain until approximately 8 a.m. Sunday, with a chance of showers overnight and Sunday morning.

Sunday is forecast to have a high of 23 degrees.



heather.norman@quesnelobserver.com

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