UPDATE: School District 60 announces school closures due to wildfires

The City of Fort St. John has placed all properties in Fort St. John on evacuation alert due to the Stoddart Creek wildfire.

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The City of Fort St. John has been placed on evacuation alert. ( City of Fort St. John )

CORRECTION: A previous version stated that the BCWS recommended an evacuation order when in fact, the BCWS recommended an evacuation alert. This story has been edited to fix this error.

Update 1: May 15th @ 5:30 p.m. — School District 60 has announced that Prespatou, Upper Pine, Buick Creek, Wonowon, Upper Halfway, and Charlie Lake schools will be closed due to wildfires from May 16-19th, 2023.

FORT ST. JOHN, B.C. — The City of Fort St. John has placed all properties in Fort St. John on evacuation alert due to the Stoddart Creek wildfire.

Ryan Harvey with the City says this evacuation alert is out of an abundance of caution, but residents should be prepared to leave at a moment’s notice should an evacuation order be issued.

The BCWS recommended the City issue an evacuation alert because of northern winds that are anticipated to push the fires south. The winds are expected to hit at speeds from 25 to 40 km per hour, with some gusts reaching 60km per hour.

The city says residents should:

  • Locate all family members or co-workers and designate a Reception Centre outside the evacuation area should an evacuation be called while separated.
  • Pack essential items for a quick departure, such as government-issued ID, medications, eyeglasses, valuable papers (such as insurance, passports, birth certificates, banking and mortgage information), immediate care needs for dependents, cell phone and charger and, if time and space permits, personal keepsakes.
  • Prepare to move any disabled persons, children, or neighbours if assistance is required.
  • Prepare to take pets with you, including pet care items (leash, carrier, food).
  • Arrange to transport your household members or co-workers in the event of an evacuation order. Fill the gas tanks of your personal vehicles.
  • If you need transportation assistance from the area, please call 250-794-5174.
  • Arranging accommodation for your family if possible. In the event of an evacuation, Reception Centres will be opened if required.
  • Monitoring news sources for information on evacuation orders and locations of Reception Centres.

Doig River First Nation also issued an evacuation alert for residents of the Doig River Community.

Due to the alert, new, unregistered evacuees cannot go to the reception centre at the North Peace Arena as it is located in the alert area. Those who have already registered are still able to access this centre.

New, unregistered evacuees are being advised to head to the Dawson Creek reception centre located in the Ovintiv Events Centre at #1 300 Highway 2.

The Stoddart Creek wildfire is currently listed at 13,000 hectares, but the BCWS says it is likely larger, estimating that it’s probably closer to 18,000 hectares.

The fire started Saturday afternoon near Mile 70 of the Alaska Highway and grew to over 3,000 hectares in less than 24 hours.

BCWS information officer for the North Peace Complex, Hannah Swift, said the wildfire has been progressively growing since it sparked.

Swift says the BCWS currently has air support, ground support and heavy equipment support on the fire, adding that there is 70 structure protection personnel being shared between the Stoddart Creek and Red Creek wildfires.

She says that the entire North Peace Complex has 23 pieces of heavy equipment and 23 helicopters being shared between the Stoddart Creek, Boundary Lake, Red Creek, and Cameron River wildfires, with most resources being used on the Stoddart Creek and Red Creek fires.

For the latest updates on wildfires in our region, visit energeticcity.ca/forest-fire-news/.

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