'Aggressive' wildfire forces B.C. community of Tumbler Ridge to evacuate

WATCH: B.C. is facing what is already one of the worst wildfire seasons in recent memories, and persistent drought conditions are expected to keep the fire danger great through the summer—also, the latest on the Tumbler Ridge evacuation. Richard Zussman reports.

An evacuation order has been issued for the northeastern British Columbia community of Tumbler Ridge.

Everyone living in the community of about 2,400 people along with the areas east of it including Bearhole Lake has been ordered to leave immediately due to the West Kiskatinaw River fire. An additional evacuation order issued by the Peace River Regional District affects a number of nearby rural properties.

Evacuees are being directed to the Ovintiv Events Centre in Dawson Creek.

The nearby Peavine Creek wildfire has forced the closure of Highway 52, and all residents have been instructed to evacuate by Highway 29.

Darryl Krakowka urged all residents to obey the order, and said so far people appeared to be handling the situation calmly.

“What I (saw) when I came into town is that people (were) realizing that the evacuation order had come, and you know you see people at the gas station but people aren’t flying around town and stuff like that,” he said.

“I think they understand the order is there and the time is now to evacuate.”

Krakowka also thanked residents of neighbouring communities who had opened their farms to board horses, chickens and other animals from Tumbler Ridge.

As of Thursday, the West Kiskatinaw River fire fire was about 9,600 hectares in size and burning out of control.

The BC Wildfire Service believes the fire, which was discovered on Tuesday, was caused by lightning. It is being managed as a part of the South Peace Complex along with the Peavine Creek fire.

Late Thursday, the Peace River Regional District issued another evacuation order for properties north of Kelly Lake due to the Peavine Crek fire.

“Since detection, fire behaviour has been aggressive due to weather conditions and volatile fuel types,” the wildfire service said in a Thursday update. Crews were on the ground working in areas where access wasn’t “impaired by extreme fire behaviour.”

Temperatures “well above seasonal” combined with anticipated winds on Friday are anticipated to continue stoking the fire.

© 2023 Global News, a division of Corus Entertainment Inc.

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