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Wildfire creeps close to Tumbler Ridge amid evacuation order

Fort St John opens ESS to greet overflow of evacuees from Dawson Creek
An evacuation order has been issued for the northern community of Tumbler Ridge due to wildfires. (BC Wildfire Service)

The wildfire threatening Tumbler Ridge came as close as three kilometres to the community Thursday, the district noted in an update to its now-evacuated residents Friday morning (June 9).

“Ground crews worked to protect homes and property, with cooler temperatures and a change in wind direction predicted along with a chance of light rain in the next 24 hours,” said the district of the 2,000-plus community located in northeastern B.C. “The fire did not peak the ridge.”

Residents got the emergency alert to evacuate Thursday afternoon after the wildfire exhibited aggressive behavior, crossing Highway 52; one of only two routes in and out of Tumbler Ridge.

The district said the RCMP, BCEHS, South Peace Search and Rescue and North Peace Search and Rescue teams mobilized and lead the door-to-door knocks with a dedicated team concentrating on the most vulnerable who needed assistance.

“Evacuation by residents was executed in an efficient and organized manner. The vast majority of residents had evacuated by 10 p.m. leaving a core group of emergency workers, volunteers, EOC staff members, Mayor and Councillors on standby.”

Emergency workers were accommodated in the local community center. RCMP and fire rescue services conducted patrols to ensure safety and security.

The wind direction shifted to push the fire parallel to the ridge, about three kilometres away from Tumbler Ridge.

“Thank you, Tumbler Ridge residents, for your swift and orderly evacuation. We extend our gratitude to all the dedicated emergency response personnel who are working tirelessly to protect our community.”

The district noted June 9 they will continue posting updates as the day goes on.

Premier David Eby, during an unrelated news conference Friday, said his thoughts are with the evacuated families from Tumbler Ridge.

“British Columbia is facing the risk of a very significant forest fire season … Without a doubt, we are seeing increased frequency of these events due to climate change.”

He asked people to try their best to help avoid a “catastrophic” wildfire season.

The West Kiskatinaw River wildfire is considered a wildfire of note and was last estimated to be 9,600 hectares.

Structure protection crews, along with a full slate of resources, have been committed to fighting the blaze.

Residents were asked to evacuate to Dawson Creek initially, however, that city is now full to capacity and the ESS in Fort St John at the Pomeroy Sport Centre is now welcoming evacuees.

READ MORE: UPDATE: Evacuation order issued for Tumbler Ridge due to wildfire

Angie Mindus

About the Author: Angie Mindus

I began my journalism career in daily and weekly newspapers in Alberta.
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