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Hitch your wagon to a star

An evacuation order remains in place at Bonaparte Lake. (B.C. Forest Service)

A campfire ban continues across most of British Columbia as wildfires ignited by lightning earlier in the week devour tinder-dry forests.


CBC News : July 31, 2010 : A campfire ban continues across most of British Columbia as wildfires ignited by lightning earlier in the week devour tinder-dry forests.

As of Saturday, 318 forest fires were burning across the province, while residents were under evacuation order or alert in six areas in the Kamloops area and the Cariboo region.

Upward of 1,000 firefighters are on the front lines across B.C., battling hundreds of wildfires in conditions that could still spark more. Air tankers, helicopters and heavy machinery are supporting ground crews, with the largest of the fires stretching 25 square kilometres.

"We have lots of priority fires but ones that are affecting residents - life and property - are the ones we consider priorities always," said fire information officer Kim Steinbart at the Kamloops Provincial Co-ordination Centre.

Lightning strikes and gusty winds are constant threats to cause current fires to grow or to start new blazes, she said.

Toasting marshmallows around a campfire in B.C. could cost campers $345 each, officials warn. (Jim Mone/Associated Press)

"One of the biggest challenges we're facing right now is a lot of smoke, so it's reducing visibility [and] in some cases can make it more difficult for aircraft and crews on the ground," she said.

In the Cariboo, crews managed to contain 15 per cent of the 1.8-square-kilometre Dog Creek fire, 40 kilometres south of Williams Lake. That blaze has forced 30 more people out and put another 100 on evacuation alert.

"We're pleased with the progress we've made there," said fire information officer Grace Pickell at the Cariboo fire centre.

About 90 residents remain under evacuation alert in the rugged Yalakom Valley near Lillooet, where 125 firefighters have kept busy at the 12-square-kilometre Jade wildfire for more than a week.

Other crews had by Saturday fully contained a 53-hectare blaze in Barnhartvale, near Kamloops, where 40 firefighters are patrolling and mopping up hot spots.

Eight ranches northwest of Quesnel were evacuated Friday night because of three fires burning in the area around Pelican Lake. They cover an area estimated to be 2,500 hectares, and the evacuation order remains in effect.

In Vancouver, the city's board of parks and recreation on Saturday elevated the fire hazard rating from "high" to "extreme."

Other precautions also came into effect, including a ban on smoking in parks or on trails, a ban on the use of charcoal or wood-burning barbecues and the recommendation to stay on trails.

A campfire ban extends across about 70 per cent of the province, with violators facing fines from $345 to $1 million and up to three years behind bars.

In other wildfire news, the provincial government says:

  • Highway 37, 82 kilometres south of the Yukon border, remains closed due to wildfire activity. Visit DriveBC.ca for updates.
  • A wildfire smoke advisory has been issued for Williams Lake.
  • The evacuation alert for the western half of Bonaparte Lake has been rescinded. An evacuation order remains in effect for the eastern half.

Four evacuation orders remain in place:

  • Pelican Lake, 75 km west of Quesnel. For more information contact the Cariboo Regional District at 250-392-4283.
  • Dog Creek Indian Reserve #2, 40 km south of Williams Lake. Residents can call the Cariboo Regional District at 250-392-4283.
  • Riske Creek Military Base, 50 km southeast of Williams Lake. Residents can call the Cariboo Regional District at 250-392-4283.
  • The eastern half of Bonaparte Lake, within a 1.6-km radius of the lake. Residents can call the Thompson Nicola Regional District at 1-866-377-7188.

Evacuation alerts remain in place in:

  • Dog Creek Indian Reserve No. 1, 40 km south of Williams Lake.
  • Tatuk Lake, 55 km south of Vanderhoof.
  • Bayliff Road near Alexis Creek.
  • Jade Mine Road, Yalakom Valley, near Lillooet.

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