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Donnie Creek Wildfire Doubles in Size, Poses Threat to Hundreds of Properties Larger Than Metro Vancouver – Breaking:


More properties have been evacuated after high winds fanned a massive wildfire in northeastern British Columbia, the second largest in the province’s history.

The Peace River Regional District issued an order for properties east of Highway 97N on Sunday night along with an evacuation alarm which spanned 370 additional properties in remote areas north of Fort St. John on Monday as winds fueled the 4,660-square-mile Donnie Creek wildfire.

Affected communities include Prespatou and Pink Mountain, south of Fort Nelson. An evacuation order means residents must leave immediately, while an alarm means they must prepare in case an order is issued.

The BC Wildfire Service says more than 140 people are working to contain the lightning-driven wildfire that started May 12 and is now surpassed in size by only the 2017 Plateau Fire at 5,210 square miles and significantly larger than the 2,883 square kilometers from Metro Vancouver.

The fire in Donnie Creek is now nearly twice the size of Metro Vancouver. (Breaking:)

Fire 3 km from Alaska Highway

Fire chief Julia Caranci told Breaking: that with “virtually no rain” in the area for several weeks, the fire has been growing aggressively in several directions.

She also said it is now about two miles from the Alaska Highway in the Trutch area between Fort St. John and Fort Nelson, which could significantly impact the ability of people living in communities north of the blaze, including the Yukon, to receive supplies and services, though no closures are yet in effect .

Drivers are advised to DriveBC website for updates.

Wind helps protect Tumbler Ridge

The agency says winds over the weekend responsible for fanning the blaze between Fort St. John and Fort Nelson also helped firefighters with a separate blaze to the south, prompting Thursday’s evacuation of the entire northeastern community of Tumbler Ridge.

Wind gusts there have kept the nearly 200-square-mile West Kiskatinaw River fire away from the threatened community of 2,400 people located about 125 miles south of Fort St. John, though the evacuation order remains in effect.

smoke rises from a forest fire on a hill above several houses in a town.
The West Kiskatinaw River fire can be seen billowing smoke behind homes in the town of Tumbler Ridge, BC in this photo by the BC Wildfire Service on Sunday, June 11, 2023. Community residents have been forced to evacuate. (BC Wildfire Service)

Environment Canada is calling for showers in the northeast on Tuesday, with between five and 10 millimeters of rain in the Fort St. John area, though the weather bureau says there is also a chance of gusty winds and lightning.

Caranci also said forecasters with her team don’t believe there will be enough rain on the Donnie Creek wildfire to significantly affect its growth.

2023 already one of the worst years on record

In all, there are five notable wildfires among the more than 80 fires across BC

Officials have noted that the early start of the season is concerning, with 7,097 square kilometers already burned by mid-June, well before the major wildfires of recent years have generally begun to burn.

If conditions hold, 2023 is on track to surpass the record set in 2018, when more than 4,000 square miles were scorched by fires recorded primarily in July and August.

Four million acres had already burned across Canada as of June 6, surpassing annual totals for any year since 2016. A government forecast suggests this will continue to be a tough year both in BC and across the country.

Road still closed on Vancouver Island

Trees and debris litter Highway 4 on Vancouver Island.
Trees and debris litter Highway 4 on Vancouver Island. (BC Ministry of Transport)

A persistent 1.5-square-mile fire also continues to burn in steep terrain above Highway 4 on Vancouver Island, forcing continuous closures of the main route to Port Alberni, Tofino and Ucluelet.

A statement from the Department of Transport on Monday says there is no estimate for when the route will reopen, and an update on the condition of the highway is expected on Tuesday.

It says the county is assessing slope conditions and the danger of trees and debris falling down the route that has been closed for a week.

Convoys of trucks will deliver gas, food and other essential supplies to cut-off communities twice a day, with a rough four-hour detour.

All other drivers are asked to travel for essential purposes only.

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