Strong, gusting winds have helped the Big Beaver Creek wildfire leap across the Alaska Highway south of Fort Nelson, and made the inferno too volatile for firefighters to battle, officials say.
Firefighters and airtankers were called in to contain the blaze earlier today only to be called off as the fire nearly doubled in size and skipped across Mile 250 of the highway, according to Fire Information Officer Erin Catherall.
“As soon as it becomes safe for crews, we will defintely have people there,” she said.
“Right now, safety is our number one priority, and right now it is too dangerous to have crews go into the area.”
The fire was just 135 hectares earlier today, but has quickly spread to more than 250 hectares.
A team of firefighters from Ontario is on its way to help fight and contain the 30-plus fires currently burning in the Fort Nelson Fire Zone, and are expected to arrive before the end of the week.
The Alaska Highway is currently closed between Prophet River and Fort Nelson. A decision to reopen the highway will be monitored on a day to day basis, Catherall said.
“The fire activity is very extreme, so for safety of the public we’ve had to close the highway,” she said.
“When it’s safe, we’ll be working to build containment.”
Firefighters had been hoping for some rain today, but the moisture never materialized.
Conditions remain extremely dry in the area and forest fuels are ripe for a spark. The region is averaging between one to three new fire starts a day, according to Catherall.
Initial attack crews remain on standby to respond to those fires to they don’t become out of control, said Catherall.