Princeton wildfire phots courtesy of Debbie Lyon.

UPDATE: Crews battle as wildfires rage in B.C. Interior

Crews brace for another day on B.C. firelines as no let up is likely

UPDATED: 11:30 a.m.

British Columbia’s political leaders were to meet Sunday with people forced out of their homes by wildfires that are threatening a number of communities in the province’s central interior.

Premier-designate John Horgan was to meet with some of the evacuees in Kamloops, where he’ll also visit emergency operations centres that are dealing with what his team called the “worsening wildfire crisis”. Outgoing premier Christy Clark was also set to visit Kamloops.

Ground and air crews are battling hundreds of out-of-control wildfires amid continuing hot, dry and often windy conditions that are making it a difficult struggle.

There are 230 active wildfires burning across the province, said Kevin Skrepnek, chief information officer for the BC Wildfire Service.

“It’s safe to say the majority of these fires are burning out of control,” he said.

The hardest-hit regions are the central and southern Interior. There are also a number of major blazes burning in northern B.C. but at this point they’re not posing as immediate a threat as the fires further south, he said.

A provincewide state of emergency was declared after more than 173 fires ignited Friday. The government said it would allow it to more easily coordinate a response to the crisis.

Related: More than 180 wildfires burning across B.C.

On Saturday, the winds eased slightly, but 98 new fires sprang up and existing fires grew in size, Skrepnek said.

The three biggest fires range in size from approximately 14 to 20 square kilometres and have forced thousands of people from their homes in the communities of Ashcroft, Cache Creek, 100 Mile House, 105 Mile House, 108 Mile House, 150 Mile House and the Alexis Creek area.

Precise evacuee numbers for the entire province were not immediately available Sunday, but the Cariboo Regional District estimated that as many as 6,000 people were forced from their residences. New evacuation orders affecting dozens of homes were issued on Sunday.

The province has been marshalling all the personnel it can to battle the flames, protect property and try to keep people safe.

More than 1,000 firefighters are on scene, supported by heavy equipment and helicopters. Another 600 personnel are backing them up, plus some 200 contractors. An additional 300 firefighters are being recruited from other parts of Canada and are expected to arrive in B.C. on Monday and Tuesday, Skrepnek said.

Despite the crews’ efforts, Cache Creek Mayor John Ranta said a fire burning between Ashcroft and Cache Creek had destroyed dozens of buildings, including at least five houses, 30 trailer park homes and two hangars at a regional airport.

“We have tremendous sympathy for the challenges we are all collectively facing,” Ranta said.

Hundreds of people gathered in a conference room at Thompson Rivers University Saturday evening where an information session was held for wildfire evacuees.

Rob Schweizer, manager of the Kamloops Fire Centre, said it had been an unprecedented 24 hours.

“We probably haven’t seen this sort of activity that involves so many residences and people in the history of the province of B.C.,” he said.

“I can only imagine what the last 24 hours have been like for the people here in this room. Our hearts go out to you. It’s a very stressful and trying time.”

Cliff Chapman, the deputy manager at the Kamloops Fire Centre, suggested Saturday was a day he’d never forget.

“I’ve been in this business for 17 years, from crew all the way up to where I am now, and I haven’t experienced a day like we experienced yesterday.”

Ground and air crews are preparing for another day battling dozens of out-of-control wildfires that drove thousands of residents from their homes in British Columbia’s central Interior.

The continuing hot, dry and often windy conditions are making it a desperate struggle, one that evacuees throughout the region are watching with increasing anxiety.

Just Posted

Haida Gwaii gets top spot in The World

It was already a nice Christmas present, but Keith Moore was really… Continue reading

McNeill fined again for illegal fishing

A local man with a long history of poaching has been convicted… Continue reading

Painting her way home

Janine Gibbons talks about all she learned illustrating Haida and Tlingit story books

Old Massett taps grassroots for community plan

Over coffee, kitchen tables, and community dinners, Old Massett is taking a… Continue reading

Subsea internet cable to link up Haida Gwaii

Cable to connect Haida Gwaii, Prince Rupert, Vancouver Island, Sunshine Coast with mainland network

B.C. cougar kitten rescued after mother struck by vehicle

Conservation Officers find home for young kitten found dehydrated and frostbitten near Williams Lake

VIDEO: Thousands join women’s march events across B.C.

Today marks one year since the first Women’s March on Washington

Two Canadians, two Americans abducted in Nigeria are freed

Kidnapping for ransom is common in Nigeria, especially on the Kaduna to Abuja highway

Are you ready for some wrestling? WWE’s ‘Raw’ marks 25 years

WWE flagship show is set to mark its 25th anniversary on Monday

B.C. woman who forged husband’s will gets house arrest

Princeton Judge says Odelle Simmons did not benefit from her crime

Women’s movement has come a long way since march on Washington: Activists

Vancouver one of several cities hosting event on anniversary of historic Women’s March on Washington

Liberals’ 2-year infrastructure plan set to take 5: documents

Government says 793 projects totalling $1.8 billion in federal funds have been granted extensions

Workers shouldn’t be used as ‘pawns’ in minimum wage fight: Wynne

Comments from Kathleen Wynne after demonstrators rallied outside Tim Hortons locations across Canada

John ‘Chick’ Webster, believed to be oldest living former NHL player, dies

Webster died Thursday at his home in Mattawa, Ont., where he had resided since 1969

Most Read