Backcountry sites closed

Recreation sites and trails in a large swath of B.C.'s central backcountry have been closed in an effort to protect public safety and prevent any more forest fires.

The Ministry of Forests Lands and Natural Resource Operations announced the Cariboo fire centre, 103,000 square kilometres in size, has been closed to those users as a safety precaution, allowing crews to focus on firefighting.

John Hawkings, director of recreation sites and trails, says the closure involves 165 campsites and 65 trails in the Cariboo fire centre, in addition to 18 sites outside the centre that are affected by forest fires.

Hawkins says they are encouraging the public to avoid travel in the backcountry.

Robert Turner of Emergency Management BC says more 16,000 people have been evacuated from their homes.

Kevin Skrepnek, chief information officer for the BC Wildfire Service, says more than 1,100 square kilometres of timber, bush and grassland has been charred since April 1st, more than double the figure the service had estimated earlier this week. 

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