Leaders in the South Cariboo are urging residents to be prepared as the nearby Flat Lake wildfire continues to grow.
At a press conference Monday, District of 100 Mile House Mayor Mitch Campsall encouraged residents of 100 Mile and neighbouring communities to be ready to evacuate safely if the need arises.
“We recognize that we are dealing with Mother Nature and we hope for the best but are preparing for what might come,” Campsall said. “That means you may be asked to leave your home for your safety. If that happens, it’s important to stay calm. If we follow the plan, we will be able to leave properly and safely.”
Campsall said it’s a “top priority” of the district to keep the town running as usual until the situation changes, noting he has confidence in the wildfire crews battling the Flat Lake blaze, most recently listed at 15,853 hectares.
Cariboo Regional District chair and Area H director Margo Wagner said keeping residents safe is another top priority at this time, noting the region doesn’t have the “luxury of apathy” in light of ever-changing conditions.
“It is likely there will be more people out of their homes because of evacuation order before this summer is over,” Wagner said. “After the event, it may seem that the alerts and orders come too soon or turn out to be for places that don’t see fire. That is not a bad thing. It is the plan working as it should.”
There are currently 1,074 properties from Flat Lake to Green Lake North, including parts of Lone Butte, under evacuation order. The District of 100 Mile House, Horse Lake and Sheridan Lake remain on evacuation alert as of Monday.
Additional growth at the southeast end of the Flat Lake fire overnight Sunday has crews focusing efforts on building guards in that area, officials said.
“We need to find an anchor point and get around that southeast corner to stop the growth we’re experiencing there,” BC Wildfire incident commander Kyle Young said. “That’s been our problem area for the past few days.”
Young said the cooler overnight temperatures and high relative humidity over the past few days have been helping to slow the fire’s spread at night.
“As the day progresses and we pick up heat, that’s when we’re seeing the increase of fire behaviour,” he said.
Contingency guards are in place along the north and northeast flank, Young said, noting that area has “fragmented” terrain, which is favourable for slower growth.
“To ease the minds of the people in 100 Mile… we are doing everything we possibly can to keep the community safe as well as the communities surrounding that Flat Lake fire and the other 17 fires we’re managing,” he said. “We’re doing our best and we hope that we don’t have to do anything in the future but there’s always that chance that it might have to come down to that. And it’s just because of the safety of the people in the community as well as the firefighters on the ground.”