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Tweedsmuir Park wildfires grow to encompass more than 200,000 hectares

Four fires now managed under one as Tweedsmuir Complex, evacation orders and alerts still in place

What started as four separate lightning-caused fires in the Tweedsmuir Provincial Park area less than two weeks ago, has grown to encompass more than 200,000 hectares.

Now known as the Tweedsmuir Complex, the fire includes Eutsuk Lake, Tesla Lake, Ramsey Creek and the Dean River fires and has sparked evacuation orders and alerts within the Regional District of Bulkley-Nechako and the Cariboo Regional District.

“From what we can see, it has filled in the gaps between the fires in the last 48 hours,” said CRD public information officer Tim Conrad.

Conrad confirmed Monday the evacuation order for 62 properties in the Dean River North area, including the Itcha Ilgachuz Provincial Park remains in place, while an evacuation alert remains in effect for the Dean River North area.

The evacuation order area includes 57 properties in the Cariboo Regional District and five properties on Ulkatcho First Nation. The evacuation alert area includes seven properties in the Cariboo Regional District and one property on the Ulkatcho First Nation.

Tweedsmuir Park trails north of Highway 20 are closed due to the fire activity in close proximity to the Rainbow Range Trail Network including McCauley Lake (Rainbow Trail), Octopus Lake Trail, Crystal Lake Trail and Rainbow Cabin area. As well, closures are in place for Tweedsmuir Trail from Mosher Creek and Nuxalk Carrier Grease Trail/Alexander Mackenzie Heritage Trail. Other areas of the park are open but may be impacted by wildfire smoke.

READ MORE: Update on wildfires in the Cariboo, Aug. 20

Conrad urged everyone to heed the orders and alerts.

“We know there are still some people in there,” he said of the area within the evacuation order, noting RCMP from nearby Anahim Lake are checking in on the well-being of residents within the orders and alerts.

“We certainly want people to watch for new information and updates as it becomes available and please, understand we don’t put these alerts and orders in place unless absolutely necessary.”

READ MORE: Williams Lake’s air quality gives residents a bit of reprieve Monday morning

Conrad said the Ulkatcho First Nation has been proactive in evacuating members to the main community as the fires have grown.

Kelsey Winter of the BC Wildfire Service said the Tweedsmuir Complex is being managed as a modified response due to the fact the fires are within the provincial park, the challenging terrain and the management objectives.

“It’s not reasonable to assume a fire of that size can be suppressed,” Winter said.

Currently, crews are in the area with heavy equipment to make fire guards to steer and manage the fire while structural protection crews are also on the ground assessing the Tweedsmuir Complex, which is noted as an interface fire.

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Two of the Tweedsmuir fires, seen here Aug. 6, have since grown to encompass more than 200,000 hectares, include four fires and are now called the Tweedsmuir Complex. The fires are being fueled by dry conditions, steep terrain and dead-standing trees killed by the pine mountain beetle epidemic years ago. Photo courtesy of the BC Wildfire Service

Angie Mindus

About the Author: Angie Mindus

I began my journalism career in daily and weekly newspapers in Alberta.
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