The West Kiskatinaw River wildfire in northern BC is approaching the evacuated town of Tumbler Ridge.
Forrest Tower, an information officer with the BC Wildfire Service, said Friday morning that the blaze is four to five miles from Highway 52, which runs through Tumbler Ridge.
Meanwhile, the Tumbler Ridge district reports that the fire is “about two miles” from its place in town.
“We’ve been seeing pretty extreme fire behavior pretty much every day since this fire started,” Tower told CBC. “We expect it to continue to be very aggressive from quite early this morning, waiting for flares, candles. So that’s full consumption of trees from about 10 a.m. this morning.”
Tower said the fire “is not susceptible to any kind of suppression activity that we might normally do” and said the winds are pushing the fire “westward, which is still towards the community of Tumbler Ridge.”
Tower said a wind shift – which would push the fire in the opposite direction – is expected on Saturday, but noted the shift “might happen a little early and happen this afternoon.”
“If we get a wind shift, it’s good news for the community,” he said.
In a social media post, the District of Tumbler Ridge said the westerly wind shift pushed the fire “parallel to the ridge about two miles away from Tumbler Ridge.”
“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 over the next 24 hours,” the post said.
Fire estimated at 96 square kilometers
Highway 52 East and North has been closed due to the wildfire, which was discovered Tuesday. On Friday morning, the size of the fire was estimated at 96 square kilometers.
Tumbler Ridge residents were ordered to evacuate from the community on Thursday. According to the district, “the vast majority of residents” had left by 10 p.m., while a “core group” of emergency responders, volunteers and Emergency Operation Center staff remained on “standby” along with Mayor Darryl Krakowka and council members.
The evacuation order covers the Tumbler Ridge district, home to about 2,400 people in northeastern BC, as well as properties to the east, including homes on Bearhole Lake.
As of 8 p.m. Thursday night, hotels were fully booked in Dawson Creek, 72 miles from Tumbler Ridge, according to the Peace River Regional District. Chetwynd – 60 miles away – also had no hotel vacancy. There were still some camping spots available in both areas.
Those looking for hotel accommodation are asked to head to Fort St. John – 170 miles north of Tumbler Ridge – where they can enroll at the Pomeroy Sport Center.