Provincial News

B.C. wildfires put all of Fort St. John on alert, nearby areas on evacuation order

By The Canadian Press

Published 10:17 PDT, Tue May 16, 2023

The British Columbia Wildfire Service hopes calmer winds in the province's northeast will give it the break it needs to assess fires threatening Fort St. John.

Evacuation alerts were issued in that city and the District of Taylor on Monday.

The Peace River Regional District also updated evacuation orders and alerts overnight, adding to those already in place for large rural areas north and west of the city.

The wildfire service is battling two major blazes near Fort St. John and two more to the north and west.

Smoke related to the two fires closest to the city hampered efforts to assess the flames Monday.

The latest estimate for the Stoddart Creek blaze shows it has charred about 180 square kilometres, pushed by strong winds.

The fire jumped Highway 97 late Monday, temporarily closing the route, but single-lane, alternating traffic resumed within hours.

Fire information officer Hannah Swift says the fire service hopes the forecast for light winds, slightly cooler temperatures and high humidity will help crews get a better idea of the state of both the Stoddart fire and nearby Red Creek fire. The Red Creek fire is estimated at just under 30 square kilometres.

An unusual May heat wave has spurred rising wildfire risks in both B.C. and Alberta, with another 37 heat records set in B.C. on Monday and another 18 tied or broken in Alberta.

Environment Canada heat warnings remain for inland sections of B.C.'s north coast but have been lifted across the rest of the province and in Alberta.

Special weather statements warn of continuing, unseasonable heat for much of B.C. and air quality advisories cover large parts of Alberta, due to wildfire smoke.

As of Monday night, more than 19,000 people in Alberta had been forced from their homes, with 24 of nearly 90 active wildfires in the province classified as burning out of control.

With files from Moose FM

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