May 17, 2015 - 10:28 AM
PRINCE GEORGE, B.C. - Crews are responding to five new wildfires in British Columbia's Central Interior, as a massive blaze continues to burn about 70 kilometres southwest of Prince George.
B.C.'s Wildfire Management Branch says all of the new fires were sparked by Friday's lightning activity in the Cariboo region.
The largest fire is raging four hectares west of Anahim Lake, where a three-person attack crew, airtankers and a helicopter are on site with 16 additional firefighters on the way.
The branch says crews are also working on three small fires in the Big Bar area and one small fire southwest of Quesnel.
Meanwhile, the aggressive Little Bobtail Lake blaze has destroyed about 170 square kilometres since it was first discovered last Saturday.
Some 240 firefighters, 11 helicopters, eight air tankers and 23 pieces of heavy machinery have been brought in and 20 per cent of the fire has been contained.
Jill Kelsh with the Prince George Fire Centre says crews have been working around the clock since last Sunday.
"It's not very often that we have crews working day and night. They have been working as hard with all of the resources they have to get this fire under containment," she says.
"It was our first and only extremely large fire burning in the province so it was definitely a high priority for us."
She says an evacuation order remains in place for about 80 people and it's too soon to say when they could return to their homes.
Kelsh says the area is finally seeing cooler temperatures and although winds have picked up, they are currently in crews' favour as they are moving away from larger communities.
Officials are hoping the gusty winds will not cause any immediate threat to structures, she says.
Unseasonably dry, hot weather has brought wildfire season early in B.C.
One wildfire that destroyed 83 hectares near Clearwater was 100 per cent contained as of Saturday morning.
Another blaze near Pelican Lake was about 164 hectares in size and only 50 per cent contained.
News from © The Canadian Press, 2015