The wildfires this past week have increased daily in size from hundreds to thousands of hectares; the number of people evacuated has risen from a few hundred to 37,000 (July 16). At least eight towns including Williams Lake in the Cariboo with 11,000 people was evacuated today ahead of the fast-moving fires. The province is in shock with road closures and concern is extreme for people, property, stock and wildlife. Additional fire fighting crews have arrived as well as military and Royal Canadian Mounted Police presence to help evacuees.
Evacuations as of Sunday, July 16
The evacuation orders are for:
- Williams Lake
- Loon Lake, near Ashcroft.
- Big Creek, west of 100 Mile House.
- The Clisbako area, southwest of Prince George.
- A rural area near McCarthy Lake.
- Rural areas around 150 Mile House, Moffat Creek and Polley Lake.
- A rural area east of Clinton B.C. and 70 Mile House
Location of Wildfires
The closest fire to our home (in Abbotsford) is Harrison Lake East (Abbotsford) about 40 to 50 K north-east near Silver River. The fire, though small at 188 hectares, was clearly visible from the west side of Harrison Lake yesterday. This area is very heavily treed and is very dry, as is most of the province, due to no rainfall for almost a month. The early spring rains encouraged abundant grass and undergrowth which has now dried off providing tinder for the fires.
Family friends who are living in the town of Harrison Lake state they have been advised the Silver River fire, which is 30 Km from them, is now 60% contained. They are not able to see the fire or smell the smoke which is due north of Harrison Lake township. Members of their family who have been evacuated from Williams Lake to Prince George this past week may not be so fortunate as it seems their Williams Lake home has been lost in the fires.
- The largest fire is the Ashcroft fire (42,300 hectares) which grew rapidly from 14,000 hectares due to weather
- The Harrison Lake (188 hectares), Princeton (3300 hectares) were human caused and lightning strikes are attributed to 4 others, with most under investigation.
- There are now 162 fires burning in the province
- 15 towns have been evacuated
- 2,900 firefighters including 400 out of province firefighters are battling the wildfires
- Fires cover an area of 131,000 hectares
- 37,000 people have been evacuated from their homes
- The largest town evacuated is Williams Lake, Cariboo (6 hours drive north of Vancouver, BC) with 11,000 plus inhabitants
- Most evacuees have driven to Kamloops last night with 11 evacuation centres throughout the province including the Lower Mainland (Chilliwack & Cloverdale)
Winds overnight were 70 to 80 kph in some areas and they are expected to continue tonight and tomorrow. No relief is expected in the next few days with no rain forecast during the following week. Extreme caution is required as this hot, dry and windy weather continues.
We are thankful there has been no loss of life though homes and property have been lost. A huge THANK YOU to the firefighters, RCMPolice, Canadian Forces and volunteers.