Provincial crews are responding to fires in the region. A series of lightning strikes is responsible for most of the new blazes. BC Wildfire Service photo

Provincial crews are responding to fires in the region. A series of lightning strikes is responsible for most of the new blazes. BC Wildfire Service photo

Caution urged if out in the forest

Dry conditions, lightning spark many fires

The BC Wildfire Service is currently responding to 72 new wildfires in the Prince George and Northwest fire centres, all of which started on Wednesday, June 20, 2018 with lightning strikes reported to be the cause of many.

“All of the new fires are being assessed and prioritized. Many of them are burning in remote areas, where access by ground vehicles is limited. Firefighting crews, helicopters and airtankers responded to multiple fires yesterday, and are continuing their fire suppression activities today,” states the service.

The Maxan Lake fire approximately 30km west of Burns Lake is believed to be approximately 94ha in size but isn’t as active as it was yesterday, reports Kevin Skrepnek of the BC Wildfire Service.

“It may be a little smaller but it’s difficult to tell with the smoke,” he said.

There are several helicopters and an air tanker working this fire and 40 firefighters, the equivalent of two unit crews, on the ground.

East of Burns Lake at Taltapin Lake, a dozen firefighters, heavy equipment and air support are battling a fire that’s now approximately 4ha in size.

Skrepnek said more resources could likely be devoted to this fire.

“They are in remote areas and are not actively posing a threat,” he noted.

Air tankers being used on these and other areas are based for now at the Smithers airport.

“We can move the air tankers around quickly to where they’re needed,” Skrepnek noted.

In addition to the 20-member unit crews, the wildfire service also uses three-member initial attack crews. They’re generally the first ground firefighters on the scene of a fire, particularly the smaller ones.

There are several reported fires in the Cheslatta area but these are small, less than 1ha so far.

And there’s a 25ha fire around Foster Road is about 7km south of Fraser Lake.

The Endako fire, about 3km west of the Endako Mine and about 4km north of François Lake, covers about 30 hectares.

A larger fire at 100ha has been reported at Peta Mountain which is approximately 20km north of Fraser Lake.

The largest fire in the region appears to be 750ha in size and is at Kloch Lake, northwest of Fort St. James.

Latest statistics from the wildfire service indicate that as of yesterday, 26 of the 63 fires reported in the province are located in the northwest. Four of the five human-caused fires in the province are in the northwest.

The BC Wildfire Service is urging members of the public to use extreme caution when they are out in the backcountry.

To report a wildfire, unattended campfire or open burning violation, please call 1 800 663-5555 toll-free, or *5555 on a cellphone.