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New wildfire north of Fort Nelson

The 30-hectare fire, near Coal River, is considered out of control
coal river alert
The Northern Rockies Regional Municipality has issued an evacuation alert for an area around the community of Coal River after the growth of a wildfire Thursday.

Update:

The Northern Rockies Regional Municipality has now issued an Evacuation ALERT for the area.

Original story:

A wildfire, said to be lightning-caused, and now reported to have begun late Wednesday morning, continues to burn near the community of Coal River, north of the Liard Hot Springs.

As of 7:30 pm Thursday, the BC Wildfire Service said it was about 30 hectares in size and burning out of control about five kilometres from the hamlet.

The larger concern, however, is the fire is only about a kilometre south of Highway 97 and could possibly close the route if the fire or visibility become an issue.

“The B.C. Wildfire Service has contacted the Northern Rockies Regional Municipality and is recommending an Evacuation Alert be issued, based on a potential impact,” said fire information officer Sharon Nickel to the Dawson Creek Mirror Thursday evening.

“With the fire burning south of the Alaska Highway, that was also part of the recommendation piece.”

However, Nickel emphasized any official Evacuation Alert would come from the Northern Rockies Regional Municipality and not the service.

"The local government has been contacted and are now working with Emergency Management BC," added Nickel.

An air attack crew has been dispatched to the area and will assess the situation with each fly-over, but their success will depend entirely on the weather.

"For the Fort Nelson zone, in general, our forecasters are expecting nocturnal (evening/overnight) thunderstorms with clearing by dawn," said Nickel.

"The forecasted winds that we did have - north to northwest 5 to 15 kilometres are expected through the night, but it does look like the humidity should be up nice and high overnight. Lows are supposed to dip down to between seven and 11 degrees."

The BC Wildfire Service is urging motorists planning to travel between Fort Nelson and Watson Lake to check the Drive BC website first.