UPDATE – This fire has now caused an area north of Prespatou to be evacuated. Click here for more details.
FORT ST. JOHN, B.C. – Two fires burning north of Fort St. John have merged into one large wildfire, which has grown from a combined 4,000 hectares to over 11,000 hectares.
According to Fire Information Officer Amanda Reynolds the Tommy Lakes fire, which is the new name of the former Tommy Lakes Road and Beatton River fire, now covers an estimated 11,405 hectares. The fire is located approximately 30 kilometres northeast of Wonowon, and is said to be burning in a northeasterly direction.
Reynolds said that the high winds on Friday caused an increase in fire activity, with the two fires merging in the afternoon. She said that a total of 58 firefighters, 5 helicopters, and 4 pieces of heavy equipment are focused on building a fire guard along the fire’s southern perimeter in order to protect oil and gas industry sites, two of which are said to be located a short distance from the fire.
Two unit crews are working on the east side of the South Nig Road connector and north of the North Nig Road to contain growth in these areas. A third unit crew is working along with heavy equipment to build guard to establish access to Beatton River off the Tommy Lakes Road. Bucketing helicopters are said to be working with crews to aid in the fire suppression efforts.
Reynolds said that in order to allow fire crews to do their jobs properly, the BC Wildfire Service will be adding an Area Restriction around the fire in order to keep members of the public out. She added however that oil and gas industry workers will still be permitted access to worksites, and that the Area Restriction is being implemented to keep out “looky-loos.”