All evacuation orders and alerts for the forest fire closest to Quesnel – the Tzenzaicut Lake Fire – have been lifted.
“Effective immediately residents are allowed to return to the area,” said a statement issued this morning by the Cariboo Regional District (CRD)-Emergency & Protective Services department.
It was the first time this spring that Quesnel had to play host to evacuees from a local wildfire, but the condition was short-lived as firefighters took advantage of the rainfall that ended the May long weekend.
“The Evacuation Alert issued Sunday, May 21, 2023 at 10:15 a.m. for the Tzenzaicut Lake Alert Area has been lifted,” said the CRD.
The alert (which urges residents to get ready to leave if called upon) covered a wide area around the fire zone located approximately 40 kilometres straight west of Alexandria, to the southwest of Quesnel.
An order (which urgently encourages residents to leave as soon as possible) was also in place around a smalled area closest to the flames, dating from shortly after the fire was discovered on the afternoon of May 20. That order has also been lifted.
“Pursuant to the BC Emergency Program Act, the (evacuation order) in the Tzenzaicut Lake Area issued on Saturday, May 20, 2023 at 10:30 p.m. is being rescinded by the Cariboo Regional District at the Emergency Operations Centre (EOC).”
The CRD reminded all involved that conditions may change quickly, so be prepared for that possibility.
When returning to the area, said emergency officials, there are cautions to be aware of, such as:
Please watch for livestock and wildlife on roads.
Residents should be aware that there may be danger trees in wildfire-affected areas. Danger trees on Crown land will be dealt with by the BC Wildfire Service danger-tree fallers. Homeowners and private land owners are recommended to work with an insurance agency to have an assessment done by a qualified arborist.
Wildfires remain active and firefighting activities continue in the area. It is important for residents to stay out of active wildfire areas. Interfering in an active fire area will result in crews ceasing ground and air operations potentially endangering nearby properties.
Residents must be prepared in the event that the area receives a future evacuation order or alert on short notice. Local governments may not have time to go door to door should a new evacuation order be issued.
It is also important to note that air quality may remain poor as a result of smoke from nearby fire activity. Those with respiratory issues, small children and the elderly should consider this before they choose to return to the area.