Alaska Highway closed near Liard Hot Springs

UPDATE – June 11th 2009 at 7:30am – Highway 97 has been re-opened after being closed Wednesday afternoon. The highway may still close intermittently between Liard River and Fireside because of fire activity and heavy smoke.  Pilot vehicles are being used in the Liard River area to help get traffic through the forest fire, so expect delays.

Officials have closed a portion of the Alaska Highway after the Liard River fire jumped the road.

Highway 97 near Liard River is now closed due to erratic winds and increased fire behavior.

The road will remain closed until further notice. However,  Drive BC is reporting that the road will remain closed until Thursday.

A state of emergency has been declared for the geographic area of Smith River to Coal River, and Fireside, including Muddy River First Nation. An evacuation order was put in place Wednesday at 6pm for the communities listed above.

88 firefighters are on-site battling the blaze, with the help of six helicopters and a large sprinkler-like system.

The fire is estimated to be 205 square kilometers in size. Officials say lightning caused the fire.

For more information on road closures, visit www.drivebc.ca