Evacuation orders lifted for northeast B.C. town as wildfire activity cools on Saturday

·3 min read
The Battleship Mountain wildfire saw significantly lesser growth overnight, according to fire officials, leading to the nearby town of Hudson's Hope rescinding its evacuation orders. (B.C. Wildfire Service - image credit)
The Battleship Mountain wildfire saw significantly lesser growth overnight, according to fire officials, leading to the nearby town of Hudson's Hope rescinding its evacuation orders. (B.C. Wildfire Service - image credit)

A district in northeast B.C. has lifted an evacuation order that was in place due to the nearby Battleship Mountain wildfire, as rain aided firefighters overnight on Saturday.

Hudson's Hope lifted the order at 11 a.m. on Saturday, with the Peace River Regional District also rescinding an evacuation order that was issued in early September.

Orders were issued as the blaze started to show aggressive behaviour last week. It delayed the start of the school year for hundreds of children in B.C.'s Peace Region, and also led to concern for nearby dams.

But on Saturday, up to 30 millimetres of rain fell on parts of the fire — slowing further growth and aiding firefighters, according to fire information officer Forrest Tower.

"It's looking pretty promising going into next week," he told CBC News. "The rain has given us the ability to work much closer to the actual fire than when conditions are obviously more aggressive."

Tower cautions that the fire remains burning, and is likely to do so into the winter. It is currently burning over an area of 302 square kilometres, according to the B.C. Wildfire Service.

Evacuation alerts remain in place for the southwest portions of Hudson's Hope, a town about 520 kilometres north of Prince George with just over 1,000 residents.

WATCH | Evacuees tried to stay strong amid evacuation orders:

The fire was burning eight kilometres from Hudson's Hope and four kilometres west from the large W.A.C. Bennett Dam, which generates power for much of B.C.

"It did come a couple of kilometres away from the ... dam," Tower said. "But since a bit of downturn in weather — specifically, we've had much lower winds ... we've been able to hold it from moving anywhere eastward."

Tower said that, despite a slight dip in staffing due to some firefighters heading off to university, the service had appropriate resources to tackle the blazes in northeast B.C.

"Within the last week, there's been quite a bit of rain in the southern half of the province," he said. "We've been able to move a number of our crews that were working on fires down there up to the Peace area to help out on fires here."

Twitter/B.C. Wildfire Service
Twitter/B.C. Wildfire Service

Tower says people should continue to pay attention to local evacuation orders and alerts, and also obey road closures and area restrictions in place due to the fire.

He also said there is still a danger of trees falling due to unstable conditions, and people should drive carefully in the region.

The only other "fire of note" in the province — one that is particularly visible or poses a danger to the public — is the Bearhole Lake fire southeast of Tumbler Ridge, also in northeast B.C.

However, that fire's status will be downgraded as of 10 a.m. Sunday, according to the wildfire service, as cooler temperatures have significantly reduced fire activity.

Evacuation alerts mean residents must be ready to leave their homes at a moment's notice. An evacuation order means a resident should leave immediately.