Wildfire crews stretched thin

Politicians in Northern B.C. are sounding the alarms and calling for more resources to fight a series of massive wildfires threatening Fraser Lake and the surrounding First Nation communities.

Nechako Lake MLA John Rustad says the Chief of the Nadleh Whut'en First Nation, north of Fort Fraser, has contacted him with questions and concerns about why there is no security on site preventing people from entering evacuation areas.

“The Chief hasn’t been kept in the loop,” Rustad said. “Health centre facility and other structures are only a few kms away from the front of the fire without structural protection units.”

“It sure feels like something is in serious disarray. I know the firefighters and staff are doing their best but they desperately need more resources,” he added.

The 20,000-hectare Shovel Lake wildfire is burning north of Fraser Lake and remains completely out of control. The BC Wildfire Service warns there are two “geographical channels” on the south flank of the fire that could send the blaze towards homes, which spurred expanded evacuation orders Monday night.

The 13,000-hectare Island Lake fire burns to the south. It has burned right up to the southern shores of Francois Lake, but is being contained on the east with a swamp and in the west with a machine guard. Regardless, that blaze has all of Fraser Lake on evacuation alert.

“I suggest to start gathering your personal and important items that you would like to have with you in case of an evacuation order,” Fraser Lake Mayor Dwayne Lindstrom said on Facebook.

The mayor of nearby Vanderhoof, Gerry Thiessen — which is not under evacuation alert — said their local hospital is preparing to receive patients from evacuated facilities.

He said Forests Minister Doug Donaldson has told him the bulk of the 200 Canadian Armed Forces committed to the province Monday will be deployed to the area.

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