Burgess Creek blaze grows to 1,600 hectares due to strong winds, drought: BCWS

Wind pushing fire's growth

UPDATE: 12:15 p.m.

The BC Wildfire Service says strong winds and dry conditions fuelled the rapid spread of the Burgess Creek wildfire, which quickly grew to 1,600 hectares after it was discovered Saturday.

The wildfire is located about 40 kilometres south of Quesnel and five kilometres northwest of Ben Lake.

Madison Dahl, information officer at the Cariboo Fire Centre, said winds began to ease on Sunday and not much growth was seen on the fire.

“Today, we expect quite a substantial decrease in the winds, and they're going to be a little bit more of a variable direction,” Dahl said.

She noted temperatures are dropping overnight, which is helpful to decrease fire behaviour, but warm, sunny and dry conditions persist in the region.

“It's incredibly dry — and the dryness and the extended drought is something to be aware of in regards to the growth of the fire, and then the possibility of new starts,” she said.

Dahl said there are 50 crew members responding to the Burgess Creek wildfire as of Monday morning, along with pieces of heavy equipment.

Helicopters are supporting the ground crews on Monday. Dahl said an air tanker, which responded to the wildfire over the weekend, is also available if it’s required.

Dahl said it’s fairly normal to have fire starts in the spring, but this is a big fire for April — and it’s unusual to have such a large number of wildfire starts at this time of year.

According to the BC Wildfire Service, there were 44 new fire starts in the past seven days. Of these starts, 20 are out, five are being held, and 16 are under control. Three are still classified as burning out of control.

The Burgess Creek wildfire is believed to have been human caused.

“It’s important to note that these spring wildfires are preventable. The human-caused wildfires are 100 per cent preventable,” Dahl said.

Dahl said it’s important for people to be aware of all burning prohibitions in place for the fire centre they are in, as well as the surrounding conditions.

Category two and three fires — which include burn piles of various sizes — are prohibited in the Cariboo Fire Centre at this time.

“You are allowed to have a campfire, but again, be aware of the conditions and be prepared to extinguish your fire,” Dahl said.

ORIGINAL: 10:59 a.m.

A wildfire south of Quesnel has grown to 1,600 hectares since it was discovered Saturday, prompting a wide-ranging evacuation alert.

According to the BC Wildfire Service, the Burgess Creek blaze is burning out of control about 40 kilometres south of Quesnel and five kilometres northwest of Ben Lake.

The Cariboo Regional District Emergency Operations Centre issued an evacuation alert Sunday evening for six parcels of land — covering 3,283 hectares in the Burgess Creek area.

BCWS said wildfire personnel, heavy equipment and aircraft are responding to the Burgess Creek fire, which is suspected to have been human caused.

Multiple wildfires were sparked in the Cariboo Fire Centre and in other areas across B.C. over the past several days.

Two spot-sized wildfires in the Cariboo Fire Centre, one located just south of the Burgess Creek wildfire, are now classified as being held.

Four others, including a 23-hectare fire located about 70 kilometres west of Williams Lake, are classified as being under control.

Information posted Monday by the BCWS says nine wildfires started in the province in the previous 24 hours.

Officials have worried this year's wildfire season could be a challenging one, with much of the province continuing to experience significant drought and snowpack levels at record lows.

Last year's wildfire season saw more than 28,400 square kilometres of forest and land burned, hundreds of homes destroyed and tens of thousands of people forced to evacuate.

Castanet Kamloops has reached out to BCWS for more information about the Burgess Creek wildfire. This story will be updated when more information is known.

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