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'Aggressive' behaviour by Battleship Mountain fire

Travel may be limited or restricted near wildfires

B.C. Wildfire Service crews will have their work cut out for them as they try to take back some measure of control on at least two major forest fires in the Peace Region Sunday.

The largest: the Battleship Mountain blaze has exploded to over 100 square kilometres in size and is burning just west of the W.A.C. Bennett Dam.

Hudson’s Hope has been placed on evacuation alert due to the fire, now an estimated 10,500 hectares and growing, as winds spread the fire eastward along the Williston Lake reservoir.

Its size has quadrupled since Friday and forecast winds today will only create more headaches for air and ground attack crews.

The fire was moving at a rate of 15 metres per minute on Saturday, and anticipated to move at up to 30 metres per minute Sunday, with winds forecast to reach 70 kilometres per hour in the area.

“We have been paying close attention to the winds. We saw large wind events yesterday and we are expecting that to continue today and into Monday,” said fire information officer Sarah Hall.

“We have five firefighters assigned as well as structure protection specialists working on this fire, triaging, as well as looking at values. We also have helicopters assigned that have been bucketing around the Battleship Mountain and Carbon Lake areas.”

However, with winds forecast to reach as high as 70 kilometres an hour Sunday afternoon, helicopters would be grounded, said Hall.

An evacuation order was put in place Saturday night for the Carbon Lake area “due to the immediate danger to life, safety, and health.”

There is also a limited access order set up the wildfire service for Battleship Mountain to allow crews safety entry and exit as they bring in heavy equipment in the coming days.

The District of Hudson’s Hope also issued a local state of emergency through its Emergency Operations Centre shortly afterwards, combining that with an evacuation alert to residents within the district.

“An evacuation alert has been issued to prepare you to evacuate your premises or property should it be found to be necessary,” said the declaration.

“It is not mandatory to leave.”

“You will be given as much advanced notice as prior to evacuation,” it continued.

“However, you may receive limited notice due to changing conditions.”

Like the evacuation alert issued earlier in the week for the Carbon Lake area, Hudson’s Hope residents should be ready to leave at any time.

The Battleship Mountain wildfire is just one of six blazes that a newly-formed incident management team set up Saturday is watching closely.

“Operations staff are developing an ignition plan for the southwest corner of the fire to build containment in that area as conditions allow.”

Thirteen helicopters are being shared between the fires of the Battleship Complex, which include other fires being fought at Bearhole Lake, Dinosaur Lake, Hasler Flats, Moberly River, and Crassier Creek.

The evacuation order includes the following areas within Electoral Area E:

  • North shore of Williston Lake
  • Table Creek south to Dowling Creek (8km west of the WAC Bennett Dam, 40km Johnson FSR)
  • Southwest following Dowling Creek to the intersection of McAllister Creek
  • West to approximately 10km West of Peck Creek
  • North to Williston Lake

The evacuation alert for the District of Hudson's Hope applies to the following areas:

  • Twelve Mile Rd., Dunley Rd., Eagle Heights Dr., & Aspen Ridge Dr.
  • Beryl Prairie Rd. & Haagsman St.
  • Farrell Creek Rd., Simonsen Ave., & Lahagarte Rd.
  • East of Johnson Creek FSR at 40km until Highway 29 and North until Hudson’s Hope from the Johnson Creek FSR along Highway 29.

Hudson's Hope residents are being advised to pack essential items including identifications, medications, and other valuables should an evacuation order be issued. Residents may receive limited notice of an evacuation due to changing conditions.

BC Hydro, meantime, says the road tomthe WAC Bennett Dam is closed to all non-emergency westbound traffic due to the fire.

The road remains open to eastbound traffic to allow people to leave the area, BC Hydro spokesperson Mike Kellett said Sunday morning.

A nearby fire near Dinosaur Lake, estimated at just under three hectares in size is also being monitored by the BCWS.

While the fire was classified as “out of control” Sunday morning, crews were able to establish a guard around part of the fire yesterday.

The hope is it will be contained within the coming days.

At this point, there are no homes or property at risk.

A fire in Bearhole Provincial Park southeast of Tumbler Ridge is also on the team’s radar, its second-biggest concern.

The latest estimate is at 2500 hectares or 25 square kilometres, and like Battleship Mountain, is burning out of control.

An evacuation alert has also been put in place for Kelly Lake which stretches from five kilometres south to five kilometres north of the First Nations community near the B.C./Alta. border.

“We witnessed aggressive fire behaviour yesterday. Rank 4 at the head of the fire. We have one unit crew, a type 1 unit of 20 on the ground at Bearhole Lake plus the 13 shared helicopters and other crews assigned to the Battleship Complex,” said Hall.

While Highway 52 nearby remains open, Hall is warning drivers to check the Drive BC website should the fire reach or jump across the roadway.

The latest forecast for both the South and North Peace is showing sustained or gusting winds through Monday night.

B.C. North Peace River

Today - Mainly cloudy. 40 percent chance of showers early this  morning. Local smoke. Wind southwest 20 km/h gusting to 40  increasing to 40 gusting to 60 near noon. High 19. UV index 3 or  moderate.

Tonight - Partly cloudy. Local smoke. Wind southwest 40 km/h gusting  to 60 diminishing to 20 gusting to 40 this evening. Low 10.

Monday - A mix of sun and cloud. Local smoke. Wind southwest 20 km/h  gusting to 40 increasing to 40 gusting to 60 in the morning.  High 16. UV index 4 or moderate.

B.C. South Peace River

Today - Mainly cloudy. Risk of thunderstorms near Tumbler Ridge late this afternoon. Local smoke. Wind southwest 20 km/h gusting to 40 increasing to 40 gusting to 60 near noon. High 20. UV index 4 or  moderate.

Tonight - Mainly cloudy. Risk of thunderstorms near Tumbler Ridge this  evening. Local smoke. Wind southwest 40 km/h gusting to 60 diminishing to 20 gusting to 40 this evening. Low 12.

Monday - A mix of sun and cloud. Local smoke. Wind southwest 20 km/h gusting to 40 increasing to 40 gusting to 60 in the morning. High 16. UV index 4 or moderate.

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