Evacuees left 'nomadic'

UPDATE: 8:20 p.m.

"The blaze has now reached 1800 hectares in size," said BC Wildfire Chief, Kevin Skrepnek.

UPDATE: 5:45 p.m.

Evacuations continue to add up around 100 Mile House as the wildfire in the area grows bigger. 

Residents of 103 Mile have now been evacuated, and Highway 97, two kilometres north of 100 Mile House to 17 kilometers north of Lac La Hache, a 40 kilometre stretch, has been closed. 

"At this time, there are no re-entry permits being issued for the areas under evacuation order," the Cariboo Regional District said on their Facebook page. 

Additionally, the Miocene area, northeast of 150 Mile has also been evacuated, but it's unclear if this is due to a different fire. 

"The entire Cariboo Regional District has been hit by lightning in a multitude of places," the CRD posted on Facebook. "Fires are being reported faster than they can be written down - all over the Cariboo. If you are told to evacuate from your property, please leave immediately. These fires are extremely volatile."

Juanita Parkins, a resident of Tatton Station Road, was evacuated late Thursday night, along with her six children.

"Most of them don't have toothbrushes, no shoes for some, but we packed our stuffies and we packed cookies so we're good to go," she said.

And for the time being, Parkins says she doesn't know where they are headed.

"Lots of our friends and family are in the 108, so we're not sure, we're going to be a little nomadic for a little bit," she said. 

UPDATE: 3:25 p.m.

Changing wind patterns and concerns about heavy smoke cutting off access roads and evacuation routes prompted Fridays evacuations around 100 Mile House.

"When the winds shift, as they are predicted to do, the threat becomes greater, smoke would move into communities, making it difficult to get people out," said Cariboo Regional District chairman Al Richmond. "Moving now will eliminate that element of panic."

There are only two exits along about 50 kilometres of road in the 108 Mile House area where 2,500 people have been ordered to leave, chief information officer Kevin Skrepnek with the BC Wildfire Service said.

"It's prudent to get them out now."

Two reception centres for evacuees have been set up, at a curling rink in 100 Mile House and a hotel in Williams Lake.

Skrepnek said 120 firefighters have been assigned to build guards along the fire's eastern flank.

The cause of the blaze remains under investigation, and more equipment is en route, though heavy smoke and poor visibility could hamper the use of air tankers, he added.


– The Canadian Press

UPDATE: 3 p.m.

The BC Wildfire Services says the Gustafsen Wildfire near 100 Mile House has now grown to 1,500 hectares.

Officials say the fire is expected to grow substantially in the next hours. The amount of growth is dependent on weather and wind conditions.

The BC Wildfire Service is urging the public to exercise caution on the roads and to stay away from the fire area, in the interest of both public and worker safety.

More than 3,000 homes have been evacuated.

UPDATE: 1:50 p.m.

A fast-moving wildfire has forced as many as 3,600 people to leave their homes in and around 100 Mile House.

Al Richmond, chairman of the Cariboo Regional District, says the evacuation order also applies to more than 2,100 properties around 105 Mile House, 108 Mile House and the west shore of Lac La Hache.

Richmond says no properties were at risk of burning at midday, but the order to leave was issued because of concerns about changing wind patterns and heavy smoke cutting off access roads and evacuation routes.

He says the fire remains volatile.

– The Canadian Press

UPDATE: 1:30 p.m.

Cariboo-Chilcotin MLA Donna Barnett tells Castanet the most recent expansion of evacuation orders now affects between 3,000 and 3,500 homes.

Castanet's reporter on the ground in 100 Mile House says the feeling is ominous as huge pillars of smoke tower over the community.

Traffic in the downtown area is chaotic as evacuees flood into the reception centre at the 100 Mile House Curling Club.

– with files from Nich Johansen

ORIGINAL: 12:55 p.m.

More residents in the vicinity of the Gustafsen wildfire near 100 Mile House have been told to evacuate.

An evacuation order is now in effect for the following areas:

  • 108 Mile Ranch Community west of Highway 97.
  • 105 Mile Community west of Highway 97.
  • All properties west of the 108 Mile Ranch Community and north of the previous evacuation order to the west boundary of geographic area 105 Mile.

Earlier in the day, 33 properties were on evacuation order and 1,800 on evacuation alert.

BC Wildfire Service fire information officer Kevin Skrepbek said given the potential for growth of the fire, there's a real chance those could be changed to orders by the end of the day.

Many of the homes under the first evacuation order were directly in the path of the fire.

However, Cariboo Regional District chairman Al Richmond says sprinkler systems placed on those did their job and prevented structure loss.

"The fire has burned past them, and those structures are still in place, so those units ... protected those homes for those folks," he said.

The fire started Thursday and quickly grew in size to 500, then 1,200 hectares.

More equipment is en route to help the 120 firefighters battle the raging blaze.

Fire crews are working on building guards around the eastern flank of the fire, nearest to the communities.

However, heavy smoke and poor visibility is hampering the use of air tankers.

"The conditions we are seeing are just so hot and dry, that has really driven the behaviour we have seen out there," added Skrepnek.

The cause of the fire is still under investigation.

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