Six firefighting crew members from Australia stop for a picture during on of their days off

Evacuation order expanded

Evacuation order for the Chelaslie River fire has been expanded by the regional district.

The Regional District of Bulkley-Nechako (RDBN) has expanded the evacuation order in regard to the Chelaslie River fire.

The forest fire that is located near Tweedsmuir Park, and encompasses the Entiako Provincial Park, as well.

The evacuation order was updated by the RDBN on Monday, Aug. 25 after the fire expanded to a total area of approximately 129,699 hectares over the weekend of Aug. 22-24.

The evacuation order is now in effect for the areas from the Eastern boundary of Tweedsmuir Park, including all of Tetachuck Lake, Chelaslie Arm and Euchu Reach to the Southern and Eastern boundaries of the RDBN’s Electoral Area ‘E’ (Ootsa/Francois Lake rural).

Evacuees are asked to leave the area immediately and to register at the Emergency Social Services (ESS) centre, which is located at the Burns Lake Heritage Centre, or register by contacting the ESS director at 250-251-0064.

The Emergency Social Service centre can provide assistance for evacuees in the form of food, lodging, clothing, emotional support and family reunification.

The Chelaslie River fire remains only 20 per cent contained by firefighting crews.

There are currently 284 firefighters, 15 helicopter units and 20 pieces of heavy equipment being used to fight the Chelaslie River forest fire.

The fire has caused the closure of the Entiako Provincial Park and for an area closure order to be issued by the Wildfire Management Branch.

The Kluskus Forest Service Road is closed at 118 km and Red Road is closed at 77.5 km.

The Chelaslie River fire is one of five forest fires in the Northwest Fire Centre’s region that is active that has burnt more than 10 hectares in area.

The four other fires in the Northwest Fire Centre’s region, over 10 hectares, include the China Nose Mountain fire, the Eutsuk Lake fire, the Deadwood Lake fire and the Copper River fire.

The Eutsuk Lake fire, located south of Smithers, has burned approximately 3750.

The Deadwood Lake fire is located Southwest of Deadwood Lake, North of Smithers near the B.C. and Yukon border.

The fire has burned approximately 2830 hectares.

The Copper River fire was discovered Aug. 22 has burned 42 hectares and is located just East of Terrace.

The Copper River fire is in the mop up stage.

The China Nose Mountain fire, which three weeks ago caused the communities of Burns Lake, Houston and the surrounding area between those two communities to be put on high evacuation alert, continues to be fought with success by firefighting crews.

The fire is now 50 per cent contained by crews.

Successful controlled burn off operations were also conducted by firefighting crews on the Southeastern flank.

The controlled burn off allows for greater containment of the fire as fuels between the containment line and the actual fire are burned off.

As well, crews continue to mop up the Northern and Southern flanks of the fire by extinguishing hot spots in the area.

On the Eastern flank, firefighting crews continue to set up a wet line of 100 feet to prevent further growth.

There are 151 firefighters, six helicopter units and 14 pieces of heavy equipment being used to battle the blaze.

As well, 40 support staff, including a Type One incident command team has been assigned to the fire.

There are still 152 active wildfires throughout the province.

Due to the high fire activity the Wildfire Management Branch has brought in an additional 85 out of province firefighters to help with suppression efforts.

These firefighters from Ontario join the more than 1250 provincial staff, 810 contractors, 295 out of province personnel, 74 firefighters from Australia and two dispatchers from Alaska already engaged in firefighting efforts throughout the province.

The request for these personnel was made through the Canadian Interagency Forest Fire Centre (CIFFC).

All costs will be covered by B.C.

Forest Fires across B.C. this year have burned approximately 330,000 hectares.

So far the province has spent $246 million fighting forest fires this year, nearly four times the budget, and has surpassed the $212 million spent in 2010.

The campfire ban issued by the Northwest Fire Centre was rescinded effective Aug. 27 at 4 p.m.

Campfires, outdoor stoves and other portable campfire apparatuses and tiki torches will once again be allowed in the region.

However, category two and three open burning, burn barrels, fireworks and sky lanterns remain banned.

The ban on open burning will remain in place until Sept. 15 or until the public is otherwise notified.

Anyone found in violation of the ban can be issued a ticket for $345, or if convicted in court fined $100,000 and sentenced to a year in prison.

As well, a violation that causes or contributes to a wildfire may be subjected to a $10,000 fine and pay all firefighting and associated costs.

To report a wild fire call toll free at 1-800-663-5555 or *5555 from a cellphone.