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BC wildfires: Crews fight fire with fire to protect Williams Lake

BC wildfires: Crews fight fire with fire to protect Williams Lake

A reception centre for evacuees from the Cariboo and Thompson-Nicola regions is set up at the Penticton Community Centre, to help deal with thousands of people evacuated from Williams Lake and other areas. Gusts of 70 km / h are expected this weekend.

That's according to the city's Mayor Walt Cobb, who said the winds have proved challenging for fire crews.

Raging wildfires in British Columbia have displaced more than 17,000 people, while the provincial government says another 27,000 people have been told they may have to leave their homes at a moment's notice.

A total of 178 fires are now active in British Columbia, while some 1,31,000 hectares of forest have been destroyed by fire in 2017, Chief Fire Information Officer Kevin Skrepnek said, according to the broadcaster.

Robert Turner of Emergency Management B.C. said about 9,430 of the estimated 16,250 evacuees had registered with the Canadian Red Cross.

Overnight, Lake Country firefighters are being supported on the ground with fire crews and equipment from Kelowna, West Kelowna, Peachland, Ellison, Joe Rich, Armstrong, BX Swan Lake and the BC Wildfire Service.

Along with the eight homes, Windsor says some outbuildings were lost but no one was hurt, although more than 300 homes were ordered evacuated at the height of the 55-hectare blaze.

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Cariboo Regional District chairman Al Richmond said teams have now been able to get into areas where houses and other buildings were destroyed to get a clearer picture of the damage. Two wildfires that contribute largely to this figure are the Hanceville and Riske Creek fires (roughly 60 kilometres southwest of Williams Lake), and the Ashcroft Reserve fire. "So we've got an 8,000 hectare fire and a 13,000 hectare fire all in and around Williams Lake so this is, in my time of doing this, this is all unprecedented to me".

"In a few cases, it is because we had amalgamated some of these fires together", he said.

Many of Williams Lake's residents have already left voluntarily, however the order means thousands more will have to leave.

We're sure they'll be grateful for a little Aussie assistance.

To the south in Santa Barbara County, almost all of the 3,500 people driven from homes by two large wildfires were able to return.

A part of that park - which receives nearly four million tourists each year - was closed Monday as a new fire menaced the surrounding area.


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