PRINCE GEORGE, B.C. — With hot and dry conditions forecast to continue this week, officials with the BC Wildfire Service are preparing to bring more crews to Northeast B.C. to deal with an increase in the fire danger rating and the potential for more wildfires to start.

Fire Information Officer Amanda Reynolds says that campers in Peace Region were very well-behaved over the Victoria Day weekend. The Prince George Fire Centre recorded only one human-caused wildfire over the weekend, which occurred near Vanderhoof.

Despite this, the Wildfire Service says that there were nearly a dozen wildfires that are suspected to have been caused by lightning over the weekend, most of which were started near Fort Nelson. Reynolds said that a thunderstorm resulted in a cluster of wildfires southwest of Fort Nelson, one of which is burning just 300 metres from the Alaska Highway at Steamboat Hill. She explained that crews are currently battling those fires with a contingent of air tankers based in Fort Nelson, and that the highway is currently open in both directions.

The largest of the new fires over the weekend sits at 140 hectares in size, and is burning west of Milligan Hills Provincial Park. Reynolds said that the Wildfire Service has deployed air tankers and water bombers from Fort St. John to battle the flames, with additional resources expected to be brought in later this week. She said the fire is not threatening any structures at this time, but that fire officials are communicating with the BC Oil and Gas Commission in case it begins to threaten any oil and gas industry property.

Reynolds said that the Wildfire Service has already got a sizeable contingent of air tanker helicopters and water bombers in Northeast B.C., and that with no respite to the hot and dry weather this week, more resources will likely be brought in to deal with an increase to the wildfire danger rating. While most of Northeast B.C. is currently at a high danger rating, areas near Fort St. John, Dawson Creek, Hudson’s Hope, and Chetwynd are currently rated as ‘extreme.’