Skip to content

Growing Battleship wildfire prompts evacuation of Hudson's Hope

Out of control wildfire at Williston Lake grew up to 10 kilometres in some areas on Saturday

Update, 1:55 p.m.

Ignition operations are being conducted at the Battleship wildfire today.

"This ignition will be supported by ground crews conducting hand ignitions from the control lines to tie into the aerial ignitions," BC Wildfire Service said in an update Sunday afternoon.

"With the forecasted wind shift expected on Monday, this ignition operation will provide a defensive advantage by removing fuel between the control lines and the free burning edge of the wildfire."

Increased smoke will be "highly visible" to surrounding communities, the agency said.

Sunday update, 9:45 a.m.

Close to 800 residents of Hudson's Hope are out of their homes this morning after the Battleship Mountain wildfire gained substantial ground Saturday towards the community.

"Our current estimated size is 24,000 hectares," said fire information Shannon Street Sunday morning.

"We are trying to clean that up a little bit with the scan results."

Street believes the infrared aerial done from a fixed-wing aircraft overnight will pinpoint that number to within a few hundred hectares of the 24,000 or 240 square kilometre figure.

"We are expecting to grow today," she added.

“We did see some areas grow by approximately 10 kilometres in distance driven by wind and the extremely dry conditions we saw on the ground today and the past several days,” said Street Saturday night.

The fire's extreme activity Saturday, at times, with rank 4 and 5 classifications, provided a situation where it was too dangerous for crews on the grounds to get ahead of the blaze and, sometimes, too smoky for air attack crews to know exactly where the flames were.

"A lot of our crews are going to be supporting our structure protection folks that are out working. So, we'll be working on the WAC Bennett Dam and in the Town of Hudson's Hope," said Street on the wildfire service's plans for Sunday.

"They're going to setting up structure protection, sprinklers. Some our crews, if they get the right conditions, will be conducting some hand ignition operations (fire guards) on the Johnson Creek, Table Creek, and Utah forest service roads, but only if conditions allow."

An evacuation order issued Saturday evening directed residents for the entire district, including the townsite, to leave immediately citing "the immediate danger to life safety."

The City of Fort St. John has set up an Emergency Support Services (ESS) centre at the North Peace Arena to help those displaced by the evacuation order find accommodations and provide vouchers for such things as food.

The requirement is that ALL residents, even if they have family or friends they're staying with, contact ESS at (250) 794-3310 to let them know they're safe.

"My thoughts are with the residents of the District of Hudson's Hope during this incredibly trying time," said Peace River North MLA Dan Davies in a statement to Alaska the Highway News.

"I encourage people to abide by the evacuation orders. I have reached out to the mayor and offered any assistance needed, as well as to the ESS centre in Fort St. John. I have not been contacted by BC Wildfire or EMBC yet, but have asked to be included in any briefings."

A posting at 8:37 a.m. Sunday morning had the size of the fire estimated at 17,410 hectares.

A full update on the wildfire is expected sometime this morning.

Highway 29 both south and north of the community was closed to inbound traffic Saturday night.

It remains closed to all non-emergency traffic between Johnson Creek Road and Farrell Creek Road.

Although conditions can change on a dime, the latest Environment Canada is showing an easing of winds, at least for Sunday and Monday, and may give crews the help they need to tackle the fire and set up fire guards, where needed.

Today's forecast is for winds up to 20 kilometres-an-hour.

"Sustained winds of 20 kilometres-an-hour can drive the fire. It's certainly not as bad as as we have been seeing over the previous few days but it is still significant enough."

Street says the winds Sunday morning were coming from the north which would turn the fire back onto itself, but the direction is expected to shift later on the day.

Saturday update, 9:10 p.m.:

Hudson's Hope has been placed on evacuation order due to the Battleship wildfire.

”Last night and today, there was significant growth on the fire,” said BC Wildfire Service fire information officer Shannon Street.

“We did see some areas grow by approximately 10 kilometres in distance driven by wind and the extremely dry conditions we saw on the ground today and the past several days.”

Street confirmed the spread was mostly on the northeast flank, the part of the fire closest to the townsite of Hudson’s Hope.

“Unfortunately, the fire is expected to grow,” added Street.

“During part of the day Saturday, we were seeing rank 4 and rank 5 activity, mainly in the Carbon Lake area moving towards the northeast.”

The hope, Street said, is to get a fixed wing infrared scan on the wildfire overnight.

“It will, of course, depend on the kind of conditions out there. Usually they can see through the smoke a little bit, but if there are any safety issues, we wouldn’t do it.”

“We are hoping to be able to get it done tonight.”

As part of the ongoing evacuation of Hudson’s Hope, a 20 kilometre stretch of Highway 29 has now been closed to all non-emergency inbound traffic from Farrell Creek Road, north of town, to Johnson Creek Road, south of the community.

Saturday update, 8:40 p.m.:

Hudson's Hope has been placed on evacuation order due to wildfire.

The district says the order applies to all properties within municipal boundaries.

The evacuation area has also been expanded to include the area immediately surrounding Farrell Creek Rd, Beryl Prairie Rd, Johnson Creek, and Stubley Creek. 

The Battleship Mountain wildfire continues to burn out of control at an estimated 17,410 hectares west of the community, according to BC Wildfire Service.

The fire has been burning for 12 days after being discovered on Tuesday, Aug. 30. The suspected cause is lightning.

"The Battleship Mountain wildfire is consistently experiencing rapid growth and is still displaying extremely vigorous fire behaviour," the BC Wildfire Service said in an update Saturday night, adding the blaze was "propelled" eight kilometres on Saturday by westerly winds and dry conditions.

Emergency support services and a reception centre have been set up at North Peace Arena in Fort St. John for evacuees to receive lodging and other essential needs.

Residents are to check in at the North Peace Arena located at 9805 - 96 Avenue for emergency support services.

Residents who have already found their own accommodations are to call 250-794-3310 to check in with emergency support services.

"Structure protection crews are continuing to activate and install structure protection apparatus in priority areas today and crews will continue to monitor fire behaviour overnight," the wildfire service said.

"BC Wildfire personnel will be supporting structure protection operations as needed."

Resources on the fire include:

• 73 firefighters
• 65 firefighters are working during the day, 8 are working on night operations.
• 49 Structure Protection personnel are working on this fire, six of which are working on night operations.
• 12 helicopters are being shared between the fires of the Battleship Complex.
• 20 pieces of heavy equipment, with six additional operational staff working with the equipment operators.

More to come.

Saturday update, 12:30 p.m.:

The Peace River Regional District has expanded an evacuation order for areas near the Battleship Mountain wildfire near Hudson's Hope.

The order now includes the following areas in Electoral Area E:

  • All of Twelve Mile Rd., Josef Rd., Dunlevy Rd., Eagle Heights Dr. and Aspen Ridge Dr.
  • 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 PRRD says RCMP and other agencies are "expediting" the order.

As of early Saturday afternoon, the Battleship wildfire had grown to 17,410 hectares, considerably larger than it was Friday.

"Temperatures are forecasted to increase into the weekend and there is no measurable amount of precipitation expected," the BC Wildfire Service says. "Increased fire behaviour can be expected as temperatures increase."

The wildfire service says 73 firefighters are working the fire, 65 during the day, and eight working night operations. There are also 49 structure protection personnel, with crews working to set up protection in priority areas today. Twelve helicopters are being shared between the fires of the Battleship Complex.

Operational update for the Battleship Mountain wildfire (G72150) September 9, 2022 from BC Wildfire Service on Vimeo.

Friday update, 4:40 p.m.:

The wildfire evacuation alert for Hudson's Hope has expanded. In an update Friday afternoon, the Peace River Regional District said expanding the alert was a "proactive measure to ensure that residents have time to prepare should the situation at the Battleship Mountain wildfire change in the coming days."

Cooler weather has tamped down the fire, though wildfire officials say it is still expected to grow with reported active fire behaviour.

The PRRD says residents can call 250-787-8150 and press option 4 for any emergency support services needs related to the fire.

For more information about the evacuation alert, click here.

Friday update, 2:30 p.m.:

The B.C. Wildfire Service has scaled back the size of the Battleship Mountain wildfire by over 1000 hectares to 12,127 hectares from an earlier estimate of 13,224.

"Last night, we had a high level fixed wing infrared scan done on the fire. What that does is gives us a little of a more accurate picture of exactly where the fire is burning," said fire information officer Shannon Street.

"Sometimes during the day, the smoke obscures our ability to get close."

The fire, though, is expected to grow with reported active fire behaviour, said Street.

Original story, Sept. 9:

A large wildfire west of Hudson’s Hope has seen little or no movement since Wednesday.

The Battleship Mountain blaze is estimated to have burned close to 13,200 hectares of forest.

While still classified as Out of Control, crews have been able to take advantage of cooler weather setting up a fire guard on the south side near Carbon Creek.

The underlining concern is that temperatures are expected to warm up over the weekend and there's no real sign of precipitation.

76 firefighters and 28 structure protection personnel are among the crew assigned to the wildfire.

12 helicopters and 18 pieces of heavy machinery are part of the efforts to knock down five separate fires in the area, including the Hasler Flats wildfire to the south.

The Bearhole Lake blaze to the east of Tumbler Ridge has grown, but only slight to 6,313 hectares.

According to the latest update, fire behaviour was reduced to rank 1-2 after being as high as 4 earlier in the week.

The hope is a forecast for cloudier, cooler, and more humid conditions for Sunday will materialize.