New evacuation order added near 100 Mile House area fire

By James Peters / Chad Harris
July 7, 2017 - 11:00am Updated: July 7, 2017 - 8:37pm

100 MILE HOUSE, B.C. —The Gustafsen fire just west of 100 Mile House has grown to 1,800 hectares, and an evacuation near the community has been expanded.

As of Friday evening, the fire was continuing to burn aggressively northwest of 100 Mile.

An earlier evacuation order already encompasses many properties around 105 Mile and 108 Mile, north to Lac La Hache.

The most recent order adds properties around 103 Mile Lake to the evacuation list.

Cariboo Regional District Chair Al Richmond says as of this morning, no homes had been lost.

Richmond adds the orders were made in part because there is only one way out for many residents.

"We need to ensure people have the opportunity to evacuate their homes in an orderly manner. The other thing is, the fire behavior is very unpredictable. The winds are changing, fires of this size create their own winds as well. Where it is going to go isn't as predictable as you would like to have it."

Richmond says a second emergency services centre has been set up at the Ramada Inn in Williams Lake, and additional staff have been added at the original centre at the 100 Mile House curling rink.

He adds it's important that people register with the evacuation centres even if they already have somewhere to stay.

"We are asking people just to come and register so we know they are safe and out of their homes and we will be able to pass on the information to friends and family. We get many inquiries about the safety of family members when they lose connections with each other. That really makes the family far, far calmer when they know their loved ones are safe."

BC's Chief Fire Information Officer Kevin Skrepnek says it's hoped many of the properties are safe, but conditions are very unpredictable.

"There is an opportunity in there to potentially steer the fire a little bit. So much of that is going to depend on the wind and the weather we see out there. Today is very similar to yesterday in terms of hot and dry conditions. We are expecting it to be a little bit more windy than yesterday. That is definitely going to be challenging our efforts out there, into the weekend," said Skrepnek. 

Richmond says this is the largest evacuation for the CRD in recent memory.

"We've never had a community quite as large as this impacted as closely where we have actually issue a order to evacuate this number of people. It is the uncertainty of the wind condition now, and the dryness of the country it is in." 

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