Winds in Cariboo and southern BC expected to increase wildfire activity

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There are now 183 fires burning across the province of B.C., including 12 that have been sparked in the past 24 hours.

Chief fire information officer Kevin Skrepnek said crews have had success in conducting controlled burns in the past few days near Williams Lake, 150 Mile House and 100 Mile House in anticipation, but he said the wind is still a serious concern. An evacuation alert was issued Saturday for the Clisbako area.

None of the fires in the region are large enough to be causing the smoke that has moved into the area.

Cobb said he believes everyone left in Williams Lake would follow evacuations orders, adding that anyone who stays behind risks the lives of firefighters who may be called in to save people from burning homes.

Many businesses in Williams Lake have already shut down due to a lack of customers.

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"Given the proximity of existing wildfires to communities, infrastructure and transportation corridors, people throughout the Cariboo region and the southern Interior should be prepared for potential evacuations", the government states. "The Red Cross has registered approx 4,100 families to date".

An evacuation order was issued Friday night for Loon Lake, and evacuation alerts were issued for Tatla Lake, Big Creek and the village of Clinton, all in the central Interior.

"Unfortunately, significant rain continues to elude the southern half of the province for the foreseeable future", Environment Canada says.

The Ministry of Forests Lands and Natural Resource Operations announced the entire Cariboo fire centre, 103,000 square kilometres in size, has been closed to backcountry users as a safety precaution, allowing crews to focus on firefighting. The Gustafsen fire (5,000 hectares) and Little Fort fires are 20 per cent contained, and the Wildwood fire (2,500 hectares) is about 40 per cent contained.

Hundreds of fire-suppression crews were standing by within an hour of the community and military personnel were ready to assist with mass evacuations, if necessary, he said.

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