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Flaring wildfires in B.C.’s Cariboo region prompt evacuation alert for part of city of Quesnel

A wildfire in British Columbia has prompted an evacuation alert for some residents of the city of Quesnel, meaning they must be prepared to leave at a moment’s notice.

The Cariboo Regional District issued the alert Friday for residents living in West Quesnel on the west side of the Fraser River, as well as the Narcosli Creek area and properties south and west of West Quesnel.

The 12-square kilometre blaze southwest of Quesnel is one of several that have forced recent evacuation orders or alerts in the regional district.

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The district has also issued an evacuation alert for 396 properties northeast of 100 Mile House near an aggressive two-square kilometre wildfire that the BC Wildfire Service describes as uncontained.

It also placed an alert on 181 properties in and around the community of Springhouse, about 25 kilometres south of Williams Lake.

Evacuation orders were expanded Friday by the Regional District of Bulkley Nechako for three separate wildfires southeast of Terrace around the Shovel, Torkelson and Nadina lakes while crews plan a small-scale burn off of fuel near a blaze close to Keremeos and Cawston.

That burnoff is meant to tie one flank of the 120-square kilometre fire to a natural control line as crews brace for gusty winds, possible lightning and potential rain this weekend as a cold front replaces a stubborn heat wave.

Later Friday, the district ordered the evacuation of residents near Eutsuk Lake and Tetachuck Lake, including part of Entiako Provincial Park, citing “immediate danger to life safety” due to a wildland interface fire.

The Thompson-Nicola Regional District issued an alert for several properties due to a wildfire burning northeast of Young Lake, about 35 kilometres south of Kamloops, which the district said poses an imminent threat to people and property.

The B.C. Wildfire Service lists 31 fires of note among the nearly 500 wildfires burning across the province.

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Dozens of properties around the northwestern B.C. community of Telegraph Creek have been damaged or destroyed, and at B.C.’s request, the Yukon government opened a reception centre for evacuees at Vanier Catholic School in Whitehorse on Friday.

A news release from Yukon says all Telegraph Creek residents who are currently in the territory should visit the reception centre as soon as possible to register for emergency social services.

Although Whitehorse is more than 600 kilometres northwest of Dease Lake, where many of the Telegraph Creek evacuees have gathered, it’s the nearest large urban centre to the north or east.

The reception centre has enough room for 200 evacuees, and more centres can be opened if needed, said John Coyne of Yukon Social Services.

There are many connections between the residents of Whitehorse and Telegraph Creek, prompting a First Nation from the Whitehorse area to send a seven-person firefighting crew to help.

A Yukon cabinet minister who is a member of the Tahltan Nation of Telegraph Creek said there’s a lot of loss in the community, but she’s confident the Tahltan people will bounce back.

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Jeanie Dendys said she was heading to Telegraph Creek for a music festival last week when the fires broke out, so she continued on and helped with the evacuation.

“The hearts of our people are really quite broken right now, collectively, but we’re strong people, we’re resilient, we’re united and we’ll do whatever we need to rebuild,” she said, adding that she’s grateful to those who have donated to evacuees.

“People have been so generous and the Tahltan Nation is so very grateful for all of the support we’ve received.”

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