Fire officials worry wind could push wildfire into BC town today

Fire officials worry wind could push wildfire into BC town today
Fire officials worry wind could push wildfire into BC town today

The BC Wildfire Service says the blaze is currently burning just two kilometers northwest of Fort Nelson, which has already seen about 3,500 people evacuate after an order to leave was issued Friday.

Fraser urged anyone who defied the order to leave immediately, warning local resources like water pressure and electricity may diminish or stop outright for public use since much of the supply will be directed to support firefighters trying to suppress the wildfire.

The province’s minister of emergency management Bowinn Ma said Sunday night to supplement limited accommodations for evacuees, the province is setting up an additional space with 200 rooms in Sunset Prairie, a community 440 kilometers south of Fort Nelson.

The blaze is one of several out-of-control wildfires in Western Canada threatening nearby communities in provinces such as Alberta and Manitoba.

“The wind is going to be sustained and it is going to push the fire towards the community,” BC Wildfire’s director of operations, Cliff Chapman, warned in Sunday night’s update video about the fire threatening Fort Nelson.

“Escape routes may be compromised and visibility will be poor as the fire continues to grow.”

Fires are also burning near Fort McMurray and Grande Prairie in Alberta, while officials in Manitoba have evacuated about 500 people from the community of Cranberry Portage some 700 kilometers northwest of Winnipeg.

The Regional Municipality of Wood Buffalo in northeastern Alberta has maintained an alert for Fort McMurray residents to be ready to evacuate on short notice, as the fire 16 kilometers to the southwest has reached 55 square kilometers in size.

Smoke from the fires have prompted air-quality alerts spanning from BC to Manitoba.

Despite the warnings for people in Fort McMurray to be ready to flee at a moment’s notice, schools there are still open Monday.

Both the public and Catholic school divisions in Fort McMurray say they continue to monitor the situation, and that they understand some parents may not want to send their kids attending school right now.

Both school divisions say that provincial achievement tests that were scheduled for this week are being postponed.

This report by The Canadian Press was first published May 13, 2024.

The Canadian Press

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