Winds in Cariboo and southern BC expected to increase wildfire activity

Centre of British Columbia closed off to recreation because of fire danger

There are now 167 active fires across BC, and though none of the largest fires threatening homes in Ashcroft, Williams Lake, Little Fort, 100 Mile House and Quesnel are fully contained, Skrepnek says crews have made some progress.

Chief fire information officer Kevin Skrepnek says officials are concerned that weekend winds will the flames of wildfires burning throughout the B.C. Interior.

"Given the proximity of existing wildfires to communities, infrastructure and transportation corridors, people throughout the Cariboo region and the southern Interior should be prepared for potential evacuations", the government states.

Since the start of the year, more than 128,000 hectares have burned and $77 million has been spent on fire suppression, according to Skrepnek.

Williams Lake Mayor Walt Cobb said crews were ensuring routes are clear and buses are ready if the rest of the city's 11,000 residents are suddenly forced to leave.

The Chilcotin region, near Williams Lake, stands as the largest fire - made up of several smaller fires - at 40,000 hectares in size.

"The public can expect to see more smoky skies as the wind prevails from the west", said Shaughnessy.

It follows an order issued Friday evening for an estimated 338 structures and residences in the Loon Lake area of the Thompson-Nicola Regional District, which was the first new evacuation to be called since Wednesday.

"Unfortunately, significant rain continues to elude the southern half of the province for the foreseeable future", Environment Canada says.

Richmond said he told a meeting of evacuees on Thursday night that efforts were underway to restore some normality in fire-weary communities.

The winds have already been a challenge for crews fighting the Gustafsen wildfire near 100 Mile House.

They are located in the Prince George region, around Kamloops, Harrison Lake East, and the Cariboo.

"When it is this hot and dry, with the winds in the forecast, too, it just makes everything more volatile", he said, encouraging people to stay out of the backcountry.

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