BCWS establishes complex for wildfires near Fort Nelson

The BC Wildfire Service (BCWS) has established a complex known as the Donnie Creek Complex for the six wildfires burning near Fort Nelson.

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There are six fires in the Donnie Creek Complex (BCWS)

FORT NELSON, B.C. — The BC Wildfire Service (BCWS) has established a complex known as the Donnie Creek Complex for the six wildfires burning near Fort Nelson.

Fires within the Donnie Creek Complex are the Muskwa River, Kata Creek, Hockey Creek, West Conroy Creek, Klua Lakes, and Donnie Creek wildfires.

In an update on Thursday afternoon, BCWS representative Paula Walbauer said it’s likely that the Hockey Creek and Kata Creek fires have merged into one and estimated the size to be approximately 24,000 hectares.

Walbauer said the team is working on gathering further situational awareness on the fires in the complex, adding that Wednesday was the first day that the team was able to get aerial visuals on the fires due to poor visibility from smoke.

She estimated that crews were able to get within five to ten kilometres of the fire’s edge, which she said has been a challenge for responders.

According to Walbauer, Thursday brought increased fire activity due to winds coming from the southeast.

“With southeast winds, we’re noticing growth between our fires and also in the north and northeast areas. We’re seeing rank three, four, and five on the fires that are in our southern region,” Walbauer stated.

As of Thursday afternoon, the Donnie Creek wildfire is estimated at 51,903 hectares. Walbauer said crews conducted a planned ignition on the southern flank of the fire Thursday afternoon in an attempt to prevent further growth southward.

She said on Friday, BCWS will assess if more planned ignitions will be necessary.

The West Conroy fire also saw more growth on Thursday and is estimated at 5,702 hectares. Walbauer said it’s unclear at this time if the fire has also merged with the Kata Creek fire.

The Klua Lakes wildfire is estimated at 17,299 hectares and is located about 35km from the community of Prophet River, according to an evacuation order and alert issued by the Northern Rockies Regional Municipality (NRRM) late Wednesday night.

Nearly 4,000 residents of Fort Nelson and the community of Prophet River are currently without power due to a wildfire in Alberta that burned a transmission line that supplies power to Fort Nelson on May 3rd.

The Muskwa River fire is estimated at approximately 1,644 hectares as of Thursday. Walbauer said the fire is located within the NRRM and is challenged by terrain.

BCWS is working with industry partners to get heavy equipment into the Donnie Creek Complex and will have more personnel arriving in the coming days, including a unit crew set to arrive Thursday and Friday.

As of Thursday, there are seven structure protection personnel, ten incident management team personnel, five helicopters and four additional resources responding to these fires.

Peace River Regional District (PRRD) emergency operations coordinator, Mike Watkins, told Energeticcity that there is a mix of users in the area of the Donnie Creek Complex, including oil and gas operations, forestry companies and tourism users.

He added that as of Thursday, there are no changes to any active evacuation alerts or orders issued by the PRRD.

The Stoddart Creek wildfire grew by 500 hectares since Wednesday to approximately 22,067 hectares, according to the BCWS in an update on Thursday. The Red Creek wildfire hasn’t seen any growth in the last four days and remains at 2,947 hectares.

Ryan Harvey with the City of Fort St. John said that residents in the city are not currently under any threat from wildfires but added that residents should take precautions to stay safe from wildfire smoke.

“Reduce or stop your physical activities. Limit your time outdoors. Drink plenty of water. Use portable HEPA air filters to improve indoor air quality. Watch for signs of health impact, such as shortness of breath or chest pain and monitor the air quality index,” Harvey advised.

He added that Fort St. John emergency support services (ESS) reception centre at the North Peace Arena is in need of more volunteers on Sunday and in the future.

“If you’re able to help on Sunday from 11 a.m. until 3 p.m., we ask that you join us at 10:00 AM on Sunday for some training before we open the doors at 11. We will be reaching out to those who have filled out the form on our website,” Harvey said.

He added that the ESS centre in Fort St John will be open Friday from 1 p.m. to 5 p.m. but will be closed Saturday to give staff and volunteers a break.

Those interested in volunteering with Fort St. John emergency support services can learn more here.

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

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