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FORT ST. JOHN, B.C. — The Peace River Regional District (PRRD) rescinded the evacuation order that was in effect due to the Cameron River wildfire on Wednesday afternoon.
The PRRD said residents whose properties are located on the Upper Halfway Road from Cameron River to Lexau Ranch and south of the Halfway River between Kobes Creek and Ground Birch Creek can now return home.
An evacuation alert remains in place for the areas previously on an evacuation order and properties that were initially placed on evacuation alert on Monday. The district says the cancellation doesn’t apply to the Halfway River First Nation.
The district also rescinded the evacuation alert that was in place due to the Boundary Lake wildfire on May 13th.
Fire information officer with the BC Wildfire Service (BCWS), Hannah Swift, said Wednesday afternoon that the crew working on fires in the North Peace Complex saw lighter winds coming from the southeast and southwest on Wednesday, which she said were between 10 to 20 kilometres per hour.
The fire service does not expect the winds to reach the rate of speed seen earlier this week.
However, Swift said the North Peace continues to experience hot and dry conditions, which are expected to continue into Thursday, along with some winds.
“We are expecting to see the abnormally high temperatures return to this area as early as tomorrow, so it does remain very dry and exceptionally hot in this region, especially given the time of year,” Swift stated.
The BCWS expects fire growth towards the northeast driven by the winds on Wednesday and Thursday, and on Friday, with a wind shift, growth is expected toward the northwest.
“Our main concerns at this point in time are the northern, northwest, and northeast flank. And that’s a result of those more atypical winds for the region coming from the south and out of the southeast and southwest. So it is that northern flank that could give us some challenges over the coming days,” Swift explained.
According to the BCWS, an issue crews have been facing in the North Peace Complex is aggressive fire behaviour in areas with cured grass and heavy spruce. Areas with more conifer trees slow the spread of wildfires.
According to Swift, the Stoddart Creek fire is growing in all directions but predominately in the south and southwest.
The PRRD said that crews have been unable to conduct damage assessments in areas impacted by wildfires but have not received any reports of structural damage as of Wednesday afternoon.
The North Peace Complex, which includes the Stoddart Creek, Red Creek and Boundary Lake wildfires, has just under 500 personnel in Fort St. John.
That number includes just over 300 firefighters, 45 personnel in the incident management team, over 130 structure personnel, 21 pieces of heavy equipment and 20 helicopters.
The Stoddart Creek wildfire is now estimated at approximately 21,455 hectares. The decrease from Tuesday, when the fire was 23,500 hectares, results from crews having more visibility in the area to better understand where the fire perimeters are.
There are 70 firefighters working on the Stoddark Creek wildfire on Wednesday as well as structure protection personnel working in the area.
Overnight, 48 firefighters are working on the fire, which BCWS said will continue in the coming days as required.
The Red Creek fire has not seen any growth in the past 72 hours and is still estimated at 2,947 hectares. It remains about 1 kilometre north of the Stoddart Creek fire.
Swift said Wednesday that if there was further south our southwest growth of the Stoddart Creek fire toward the Red Creek fire, the Stoddart fire would actually be stopped because there would be no more fuel for the blaze to consume.
“If we do see growth in that direction and if they were to merge, it’s not the worst thing in the world. It would actually help with containment efforts,” Swift said.
As of Wednesday afternoon, there were 65 firefighters working on the Red Creek Fire.
On Wednesday, The City of Fort St. John and the District of Taylor rescinded evacuation alerts that were put in place earlier this week.
Taylor says the risk of wildfire remains high and advises residents to remain alert and prepared. Water restrictions and fire bans are still in effect in the district.
Communications manager with the City of Fort St. John, Ryan Harvey, said Wednesday afternoon that the City is considering a fire ban within city limits and will make an announcement regarding its decision within the next 24 hours.
All open fires will be prohibited across the Prince George Fire Centre starting Friday at noon.
For the latest updates on wildfires in our region, visit energeticcity.ca/forest-fire-news/.
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