Wildfire threatening Fort Nelson is now just 2.5 km from town, officials warn

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  • The Parker Lake wildfire continues to approach Fort Nelson, B.C., and was about 1.5 kilometres outside of town just before 7 a.m. MT Monday, according to the regional mayor. 
  • B.C. Minister of Emergency Preparedness Bowinn Ma and wildfire officials are expected to provide an update on the situation at 10 a.m. PT on Monday. Watch it live on CBC.
  • Officials warned Sunday that winds are likely to continue pushing the fire toward Fort Nelson through the day.
  • The wildfire grew in size to nearly 53 square kilometres as of Sunday evening.
  • Residents who did not evacuate were told there would be no help available after noon Sunday.
  • How to find the full list of wildfires, highway closures and evacuation orders and alerts.

The fast-moving wildfire threatening Fort Nelson, B.C. has grown further overnight and is now about 1.5 kilometres away from the western edge of town, the region’s mayor said Monday morning.

High winds have continued to drive the Parker Lake fire — last measured at 53 square kilometres — toward the town in northeastern British Columbia, the B.C. Wildfire Service (BCWS) said on Sunday evening.

Whether the fire reaches the town depends on the weather, said Rob Fraser, mayor of the Northern Rockies Regional Municipality.

“The forecast that I hear is that we’re going to get a westerly flow which could bring the fire closer to the community if it gets up to what it was like on Friday,” Fraser told CBC News shortly before 7 a.m. MT on Monday.

“We’re trying to keep the fire away from the high fuel areas, so it’s all hands on deck.”

WATCH | ‘Everything will be weather dependent,’ says mayor of fire’s impact: 

B.C.’s Parker Lake fire closing in on Fort Nelson, says mayor

2 hours ago

Duration 7:45

Mayor Rob Fraser of the Northern Rockies Regional Municipality says the Parker Lake wildfire spread overnight and, depending on the weather, could continue to approach the town of Fort Nelson, B.C.

Fraser said BCWS, local fire crews and private contractors have “excellent equipment” and are “out there doing their best.”

“But you never have enough when you’ve got a fire impinging on your community this closely.”

2 holdover fires also growing rapidly

The Parker Lake fire prompted orders for the nearly 4,000 people living in Fort Nelson and the nearby Fort Nelson First Nation to evacuate on Friday, days after two other massive holdover fires to the north and east of the town reignited and prompted evacuation alerts.

The out-of-control Nogah Creek fire has grown to more than 600 square kilometres since it was reignited on May 5, BCWS said. It is burning approximately 60 kilometres east of Fort Nelson.

About 50 kilometres north of town, the Patry Creek holdover fire reignited on May 2 and has grown to 34 square kilometres as of Saturday night, according to the BCWS website. It is also considered out of control.

Both fires prompted evacuation alerts in and around Fort Nelson and the First Nation last week. 

But the situation quickly deteriorated when winds blew a tree down onto a power line and sparked the Parker Lake fire just nine kilometres west of the town Friday afternoon.

That forced more than 3,000 people to evacuate their homes and take the 380-kilometre drive south to Fort St. John for shelter on Friday. Over the weekend, evacuees were encouraged to drive another 440 kilometres south to Prince George if they could.

Fraser said as of Monday morning, fewer than 100 households have not heeded evacuation orders and remain in the area.

WATCH | No help available for those who choose to stay: 

Wildfire may hit Fort Nelson on Monday, officials warn

11 hours ago

Duration 3:25

Officials are urging anyone still in Fort Nelson, B.C. and the Fort Nelson First Nation to leave as an out-of-control wildfire grows closer to the community and could start burning buildings on Monday.

‘Too much to lose’

Ian Langstaff says he stayed behind because he has “too much to lose.”

The mechanic has been working to clear flammable brush and debris and dampen the earth along the perimeter of his property about two kilometres north of Fort Nelson.

“I have people calling me, telling me where the keys are to their houses, to go get Gatorade, to get water, to get whatever we need, to get pieces of equipment, fuel, grease, everything to keep things going,” he told CBC News early Monday.

“If it wasn’t for the community, we wouldn’t be where we’re at right now.”

An aerial picture of a large wildfire emitting large amounts of smoke.
The Parker Lake wildfire west of Fort Nelson, B.C., is pictured from the air on May 12. The fire led to an evacuation order for the entire community on Friday and was about 1.5 kilometres from town early Monday, the region’s mayor said. (B.C. Wildfire Service)

Langstaff says he worries the two holdover fires are drawing resources away from the Parker Lake fire at the town’s doorstep and says BCWS should have done more to extinguish them over the wintertime.

“If we get a bad wind change and it brings one of them toward us, it’ll obliterate us. There won’t be any fighting. It’ll decimate the community,” he said.

“So we’re battling this small fire right now and just hoping and praying that we don’t have to battle one of them two big monsters.”

B.C. Emergency Preparedness Minister Bowinn Ma said Sunday that the situation is “evolving rapidly” and urged anyone who had not yet evacuated to do so immediately.

BCWS and local crews “are doing everything they can to protect homes and the community,” Ma said in a video posted to the social media platform X.

Ma and other officials, including from the wildfire service, are expected to provide an update on the fires at 10 a.m. PT in Victoria. CBC will stream the update live.


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