7:40 p.m. update: Winds and the possibility of lightning expected for Wednesday has resulted in a number of new evacuation alerts throughout the Cariboo.
In the South Cariboo, an evacuation alert has been extended to the south west of 100 Mile House in the Cariboo Regional District’s Area G. The alert extends from the Gustafsen fire evacuation orders to the north, south along the western edge of Highway 97 to Davis Lake Road.
Alerts remain in place for the Forest Grove/Canim Lake area. 100 Mile House was evacuated Sunday night.
The City of Williams Lake and the surrounding areas are also on alert.
3:12 p.m. update: The Gustafsen wildfire north of 100 Mile House has remained largely the same throughout the day, says BC Wildfire Fire Information Officer Heather Rice, however winds are currently picking up.
“Today it has been going fairly well, but you’ll note just within the last little bit the winds are picking up again so people will see a little more fire activity.”
Rice says that fire crews seem to be holding their own and that to the best of her knowledge the fire has remained west of Highway 97.
“The firefighters and the BC Wildfire service and the structural fire fighters continue to do a good job,” she says.
She does say the fire has moved a little farther north today, although she couldn’t speak to what extent.
The fire remains at an estimated 5,000 hectares she says, although BC Wildfire will reassess tomorrow and provide an update if it has changed.
“You can really get a sense of the teamwork out here, not just of the BC Wildfire service crews and the firefighters but also the RCMP and district staff.”
New EOC phone number
Due to the high volume of calls on the Emergency Operations Centre (EOC) Public Information Line, the Cariboo Regional District is increasing the number of phones they are able to answer.
In order to add more lines, the the EOC is transferring to a new phone number: 1-866-759-4977.
The older number will still work and it will be forwarded to the new toll free number.
Up to ten callers will be able to wait in queue on the new line. If there are more than ten, callers will hear a message asking them to call back. No voice mail will be available.
The Gustafsen wildfire to the north of 100 Mile House stayed stable overnight, says BC Wildfire Information Officer Heather Rice.
“With the cooler temperature overnight and the quieter winds, the firefighters did an excellent job of holding the fire in place,” says Rice.
“100 Mile House evacuated last night simply because we had a change in weather and the fire activity got quite active for a while there.”
Rice says that to the best of her knowledge, fire crews did “a job well done” of keeping the fire away from the Highway 97 corridor.
As well, she says, to the best of her knowledge the fire has not jumped from the west side to the east side of the highway, aside from a small spot fire yesterday, however she will update the Free Press if any updates do occur.
“I see winds are starting to pick up currently, but they seem to be doing a good job holding it right now.”
Rice commends the District of 100 Mile House for doing “an excellent job of abiding by the evacuation orders. We continue to ask people to do so for the safety of themselves and, of course, the fire fighters.”
Related: 100 Mile is under evacuation
Evacuations orders and alerts
The District of 100 Mile House is under an evacuation order as of the evening of July 9.
100 Mile House joins evacuation orders in 103 Mile, 105 Mile, 108 Mile Ranch and the western part of Lac la Hache.
An alert went out last night for parts of the Cariboo Regional District’s Area G and H as a precaution.
The area extends east of Highway 97 from 100 Mile House to Lac La Hache; east along Timothy Lake Road to the southern boundary of School House Lake Provincial Park; east to and including the community of Eagle Creek; south to Hathaway Lake including Canim Lake and Drewery Lake; and west to 100 Mile House. Hathaway Lake is excluded from this alert.
Included in the alert are the communities of Forest Grove and the western part of Canim Lake.
Those residents are not under an an order right now, however according to CRD Area H Director Margo Wagner, Interior Roads and the Ministry of Transportation and Infrastructure is set up at intersections giving directions for those looking to leave via the back roads to Highway 24.
Evacuees needing Emergency Social Services are asked to head to Prince George east via Highway 24, north along Highway 5 and then west along Highway 16.
Highway 97 is closed 2 km north of 100 Mile House at the Canim Hendrix Road intersection to Lac la Hache at the Timothy Lake Intersection.
The highway is open to northbound (but not southbound traffic) 15 km south of Quesnel at Kersely.
Highway 97 is also closed in both directions from Clinton to the intersection with Highway 1 in Cache Creek. Highway 1 also remains closed in that area.
Highway 24 remains open to east bound traffic leaving 100 Mile House. It is closed to westbound traffic destined for 100 Mile House 31 km east of the junction with Highway 97.