The number of people evacuated from their homes due to the BC wildfires is now estimated at 14-thousand.
Bob Turner, assistant deputy minister from Emergency Management BC, updated the figure at a news conference Monday.
He says that includes about 2,000 residents of 100 Mile House who were ordered out Sunday night due to a wind shift on the Gustafsen fire.
He expects the numbers will go higher.
“Generally we’re still looking at a deteriorating situation. We’re looking at many weeks to come of a very challenging environment, and public safety will become the overwhelming priority for the BC government and the BC Wildfire Service,” said Turner
Photo: Smoky skies returned to Vernon Monday, with smoke from the large fires in the Interior
The updated fire count today is 218, with 29 new starts on Sunday.
“That is certainly less than what we’ve seen over the last few days,” said Kevin Skrepnek of the Service. “We had in the neighborhood of 140 new fires start on Friday alone, and almost 100 Saturday. So certainly less activity yesterday in terms of new starts and that’s largely because we did not see the same degree of lightning activity as we had in the days previous.”
Among the largest are a cluster of blazes near Williams Lake with a combined total of 10-thousand hectares.
Gustafsen is 5,000 hectares, Dragon Mountain southeast of Quesnel is 1,500, Hanceville in the Chilcotin which has several fires, is a combined 10,000 hectares, Ashcroft Reserve is 6,150, Princeton 2,000, Little Fort along Highway 5 with 2 fires is 897, and another west of Little Fort is 315 hectares.
There is also three new large fires in the Prince George Centre which have led to evacuation alerts, one of the largest is on Sutherland Road at 700 hectares.
There is no immediate relief in the weather, but 300 firefighters and support staff from other areas of Canada are on their way to relieve current fire crews.
11 am story
The BC Forest Service will hold a news conference at 1 pm this afternoon to update the wildfire situation around the province.
At last report, there were 225 active fires, including 27 new ones on Sunday.
Kevin Skrepnek from the Wildfire Service says more than 1,600 personnel are going full out to try and get some control of the raging fires.
“There is a tremendous amount of effort being put in right now to stemming the growth of these fires, wherever possible. A lot of women and men are doing what ever they can to put containment on these fires. Having said that though, we are at the mercy of the weather,” says Skrepnek who says the hot dry weather is expected to continue for the next 3 to 5 days.
The number of evacuated residents — or those on alert — is now estimated at around 9,000 after the latest order Sunday night affecting up to 2,000 residents in 100 Mile House.
Others still out of their homes are from communities around Williams Lake, Quesnel, Ashcroft, Princeton and Little Fort.
Help is on the way for BC`s beleaguered forest fire fighters.
Roughly 300 firefighters and support staff from Alberta, Saskatchewan, Ontario and New Brunswick have been sent to BC to help out.
The military is also bringing in three Griffon helicopters and some larger fixed-wing aircraft.
They will be used help evacuated residents and airlift emergency workers and equipment.