Photo: The Liard Hot Springs Fire continues to grow – submitted

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Three communities are being forced to evacuate, after the Liard River Hot Springs fire has expanded to more than ten thousand hectares in size.

More than 60 residents are being forced to evacuate from the Coal River, Muddy River Indian Reserve #1 and Fireside communities.

The fire has caused the Alaska Highway to be closed between Fort Nelson and Watson Lake. Toad River residents will be permitted to travel home. All others will be denied access to the highway until further notice.

The Regional District has installed barricades at each community.  Deanna Hill from the visitor information center, says most accomodations are booked up in Fort Nelson. She is recommending travelers to postpone any plans to travel to Fort Nelson.  For more details on the highway call 250-774-6956.

Chief Administrator Office for the Northern Rockies Regional Municipality Randy McLean says he thinks those evacuated will be relocated to Watson Lake. He says this is a precautionary measure, because officials think the fire will reach the highway by 6 o’clock tonight.  The Northern Rockies Regional Municipality has set up an emergency centre in Fort Nelson, you can call 250-774-3955.

Fire Information Officer Jillian Chimko says the Liard River Hot Springs Park remains open, now that the fire is moving away from the area. There are 80 firefighters on site.

Chimko says dry conditions and heavy winds are contributing to the fire’s expansion.  

There is no word yet on what caused the fire.

Photo: A bird’s-eye view of the 10,000 hectare fire burning near the Liard River Hot Springs – Submitted

This map shows the locations of the three communities:

View Communities threatened in a larger map