May 06, 2016 - 9:30 AM
FORT ST. JOHN, B.C. - A wildfire burning in northeast British Columbia has crossed over into Alberta, but B.C. crews are fighting the blaze on both sides of the border.
The B.C. Wildfire Service says the Siphon Creek blaze burning northeast of Fort St. John jumped the border into Alberta late Thursday afternoon.
Fire information officer Emily Epp says B.C. is taking responsibility for the blaze to ease the burden of Alberta firefighters who are battling catastrophic fires around Fort McMurray.
She says she doesn't have an immediate estimate of how far the fire has travelled into Alberta, but she expects to have more information by Friday morning.
Epp says the fire was last mapped at 90 square kilometres, but she expects that it has grown in size and more than 70 firefighters and 17 pieces of heavy equipment are working on the blaze.
Meantime two other fires about 50 kilometres northwest of Fort St. John combined to form a single powerful blaze, forcing evacuations on Thursday.
The wildfire service says the two fires, previously identified as the Beatton Airport Road fire and the Stoddart Road fire, have joined.
The service says the fire now known simply as the Beatton Airport Road fire covers about 100 square kilometres, due to aggressive fire behaviour.
The blaze forced the closure of the Highway 97 about 45 kilometres north of Fort St. John in both directions on Thursday evening.
More than 100 firefighters, five helicopters and six pieces of heavy equipment are battling the wildfire with the support of air tankers.
The Peace River Regional District has declared a state of local emergency for several communities, enabling authorities to exercise emergency powers including ordering residents to evacuate.
Epp says crews have been assessing the situation and some areas were tactically evacuated on Thursday to remove those immediately threatened by the wildfire.
She did not immediately know how many people had been evacuated.
News from © The Canadian Press, 2016