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Wind gusting up to 70 km/h poses challenges in B.C. wildfire fight

Fire service says steep terrain also creating issues as province expects challenging week
The Downton Lake wildfire northwest of Whistler, B.C., burns in this recent handout photo. THE CANADIAN PRESS/HO, BC Wildfire Service

The operations director at the BC Wildfire Service says firefighters are bracing for a “challenging week” as hot and dry conditions are expected to persist.

Cliff Chapman says winds are gusting from 40 to 70 kilometres an hour in southern B.C., making it difficult to suppress and contain fires burning in the region.

He says the conditions, coupled with steep terrain of fires, including the Downton Lake wildfire burning 110 kilometres northwest of Whistler, B.C., is also making it difficult to use heavy equipment and air fleet effectively.

Chapman says crews working on the Downton Lake blaze, which has already destroyed at least a dozen homes around Gun Lake, will aim to steer the flames away from the community amid windy conditions.

An evacuation order covering the more than 200 properties around the lake was issued Tuesday and quickly upgraded to critical, urging the seasonal and permanent residents to leave for Lillooet or Whistler.

The Thompson-Nicola Regional District issued an evacuation alert late Wednesday for approximately 75 properties near Adams Lake in Rivers and the Peaks areas due to the Lower East Adams Lake wildfire.

The Columbia Shuswap Regional District also issued an evacuation alert for the Northern Reach of Tsutswecw Provincial Park because of the same fire.

The service says there are about 360 active wildfires in British Columbia, with 193 of those considered out of control and 13 fires of note that are either highly visible or pose potential threats to public safety.

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