May 27, 2018 by The Canadian Press
KAMLOOPS, B.C. – Members of the public are no longer allowed in the area around Allie Lake, B.C., where one of the first large wildfires of the 2018 season is blazing out of control.
The B.C. Wildfire Service has issued an area restriction on nearby Crown land to protect the public and ensure the safety of firefighters who are battling the flames around the clock.
The restriction will remain in place until Oct. 31, unless rescinded before then.
The blaze at Allie Lake, about 55 kilometres northwest of Kamloops, was burning across 22 square kilometres by Saturday evening, up from about eight square kilometres on Thursday.
The Thompson-Nicola Regional District has issued evacuation orders for 14 properties and evacuation alerts for another 51 addresses because of the potential danger to life and health.
Fire information officer Heather Rice says the B.C. Wildfire Service is ramping up its response to the blaze and firefighters are working around the clock to contain it.
There are now 112 firefighters on the ground, 10 helicopters bucketing the blaze from the sky, 12 support personnel on the incident command team and eight pieces of heavy equipment in action, she said.
The fire is burning on the perimeter of a 2,000-square kilometre area that was scorched by B.C.’s largest wildfire of 2017.
Meantime, crews are beginning to get a second large fire burning in British Columbia’s southern Interior under control.
The fire at Xusum Creek west of Lillooet grew to five square kilometres overnight from four square kilometres on Friday, but firefighters have managed to contain one quarter of it, the B.C. Wildfire Service said.
The blaze prompted the Squamish-Lillooet Regional District to order evacuations of two properties along the narrow and twisting Highline Road, in addition to evacuation alerts for almost 30 other addresses.
Fire information officer Brenna Ward said the fire is still classified as “out of control,” but 64 firefighters and three helicopters battling the blaze are making progress.
They are focusing their efforts on the fire’s north and south flanks to prevent it from creeping into a valley filled with timber, Ward said.
Just over 200 fires have been recorded since the season began on April 1, and the wildfire service website shows the fire risk for most of B.C. is now rated moderate to high, with several parts of the province rated at extreme.
A number of wildfires north of Fort St. John and west of Fort Nelson in northeastern B.C. are also active, but they are not threatening any structures.
The largest, an 11-square-kilometre blaze at Tommy Lakes, was believed to be sparked by lightning.