Massive wildfire now within half mile of B.C. town

Massive wildfire now within half mile of B.C. town

3 August 2009

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Canada — A raging, uncontrolled fire has  devoured more than 5,000 acres of Mount McLean forests and is  within just one kilometre from the community of Lilloet sparking an evacuation alert for 2,600 residents.

When the fire was first dicovered on July 22, it was burning approximately four kilometres directly above Lillooet, a small city at the foot of the mountain located approximately 250 kilometres north-east of Vancouver. 

 ”Extreme fire behaviour is observed during daylight hours, due to hot, dry, windy conditions,” said a bulletin issued by the B.C. Wildfire Protection Branch on Saturday afternoon.

“Evacuation alerts are in place for Lillooet, Seton Lake and Shalalth. Evacuation Orders for 3 properties along the north shore of Seton Lake remain in place,” said the firefighting authority.

Mayor Dennis Bontron signed an evacuation alert saying the community should be prepared to leave at a moment’s notice if the alert is upgraded to an evacuation order.

Extremely dry conditions have fuelled the fire as it continues to roar downhill and closer to the town.

“Fire suppression personnel are expanding and reinforcing control lines around the Mount McLean wildfire which now estimated at 2650 hectares in size,” said B.C. ministry of forests.

“Quieter fire behaviour was observed last night but extreme fire behaviour is still expected. Today’s priority is the protection of the communities at risk and the safety of personnel on site,” it said in a statement.

“Currently, 59 B.C. Forest Service firefighters, 16 pieces of heavy machinery, 15 helicopters, and 17 structure protection personnel from the Office of the Fire Commissioner and 45 support personnel are involved in fire suppression efforts,” it said.

“Ignition potential in the back country has reached a critical level. The province is asking the public to avoid travelling in remote areas. This will help reduces the risk of accidental fire starts and prevent people from being unwillingly affected by a wildfire,” said the statement.

B.C. is experiencing extremely dry weather conditions and numerous wildfires have been touched off by lightening or human activity. Meanwhile, the last of the 11,000 evacuated in West Kelowna and Terrace Mountain areas have been allowed to return home.

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