Princeton wildfire phots courtesy of Debbie Lyon.

UPDATE: Crews battle as wildfires rage in B.C. Interior

Crews brace for another day on B.C. firelines as no let up is likely

UPDATED: 11:30 a.m.

British Columbia’s political leaders were to meet Sunday with people forced out of their homes by wildfires that are threatening a number of communities in the province’s central interior.

Premier-designate John Horgan was to meet with some of the evacuees in Kamloops, where he’ll also visit emergency operations centres that are dealing with what his team called the “worsening wildfire crisis”. Outgoing premier Christy Clark was also set to visit Kamloops.

Ground and air crews are battling hundreds of out-of-control wildfires amid continuing hot, dry and often windy conditions that are making it a difficult struggle.

There are 230 active wildfires burning across the province, said Kevin Skrepnek, chief information officer for the BC Wildfire Service.

“It’s safe to say the majority of these fires are burning out of control,” he said.

The hardest-hit regions are the central and southern Interior. There are also a number of major blazes burning in northern B.C. but at this point they’re not posing as immediate a threat as the fires further south, he said.

A provincewide state of emergency was declared after more than 173 fires ignited Friday. The government said it would allow it to more easily coordinate a response to the crisis.

Related: More than 180 wildfires burning across B.C.

On Saturday, the winds eased slightly, but 98 new fires sprang up and existing fires grew in size, Skrepnek said.

The three biggest fires range in size from approximately 14 to 20 square kilometres and have forced thousands of people from their homes in the communities of Ashcroft, Cache Creek, 100 Mile House, 105 Mile House, 108 Mile House, 150 Mile House and the Alexis Creek area.

Precise evacuee numbers for the entire province were not immediately available Sunday, but the Cariboo Regional District estimated that as many as 6,000 people were forced from their residences. New evacuation orders affecting dozens of homes were issued on Sunday.

The province has been marshalling all the personnel it can to battle the flames, protect property and try to keep people safe.

More than 1,000 firefighters are on scene, supported by heavy equipment and helicopters. Another 600 personnel are backing them up, plus some 200 contractors. An additional 300 firefighters are being recruited from other parts of Canada and are expected to arrive in B.C. on Monday and Tuesday, Skrepnek said.

Despite the crews’ efforts, Cache Creek Mayor John Ranta said a fire burning between Ashcroft and Cache Creek had destroyed dozens of buildings, including at least five houses, 30 trailer park homes and two hangars at a regional airport.

“We have tremendous sympathy for the challenges we are all collectively facing,” Ranta said.

Hundreds of people gathered in a conference room at Thompson Rivers University Saturday evening where an information session was held for wildfire evacuees.

Rob Schweizer, manager of the Kamloops Fire Centre, said it had been an unprecedented 24 hours.

“We probably haven’t seen this sort of activity that involves so many residences and people in the history of the province of B.C.,” he said.

“I can only imagine what the last 24 hours have been like for the people here in this room. Our hearts go out to you. It’s a very stressful and trying time.”

Cliff Chapman, the deputy manager at the Kamloops Fire Centre, suggested Saturday was a day he’d never forget.

“I’ve been in this business for 17 years, from crew all the way up to where I am now, and I haven’t experienced a day like we experienced yesterday.”

Ground and air crews are preparing for another day battling dozens of out-of-control wildfires that drove thousands of residents from their homes in British Columbia’s central Interior.

The continuing hot, dry and often windy conditions are making it a desperate struggle, one that evacuees throughout the region are watching with increasing anxiety.

Just Posted

#MeToo at work: Employers play a role in fixing culture of harassment

B.C. workplaces are getting ahead of being the next MeToo debacle, calling on experts to train staff

Hope Hospice tree brings Christmas cheer

Passers-by can use the provided tags to write the name of friends, family or even pets that have passed

Corruption no longer dogs Yale First Nation

A return to traditional governance helps to turn the tide

Emil Anderson earns multiple provincial contractor awards

Family-run companies with a long history in the FV were recognized for excellence in grading and community service

#MeToo at work: How reporting sexual harassment works – and how it doesn’t

British Columbians have four options to report harassment or assault, but none of them are easy

Homes in Hope sparkling for the holidays: Part 2

Hope photographer Ray Daws shares some festive sights

VIDEO: balloons and games and music at Basic for Babies in Langley

Event helps Food Banks stock supplies for infants

Kamloops RCMP warning public to stay away from unfolding domestic dispute

The public is being asked to avoid Sabiston Creek Road off of the highway

Owl found dead after eating rat poison leaves B.C. woman concerned

After finding the owl on her Surrey property, Christine Trozzo says the poison is a concern for kids

Change to CPP death benefit panned as insufficient to cover funeral costs

Funeral Services Association of Canada lobbied governments to raise the value to $3,580

B.C. woman brain injured in crash as a baby gets $1.1 million in damages

Trial heard the woman was 16 months old, being carried by her mother when they were both hit

Court denies WestJet’s bid to toss out discrimination lawsuit of former worker

Mandalena Lewis is suing WestJet over allegations of gender-based discrimination

VIDEO: 3 months later, rescued sea lion released back into ocean

The young animal was found in Campbell River three months ago

Sagmoen neighbours recall alleged hammer attack

Woman was screaming outside Maple Ridge townhouse in 2013

Most Read