UPDATE — July 15, 2022: Extra crews arriving to battle fast-growing wildfire near Lytton
The B.C. Wildfire Service says a new wildfire just 1.7 kilometres outside of Lytton, B.C. has grown to 200 hectares and is now a wildfire of note.
Taylor MacDonald with the Kamloops Fire Centre said the fire was still burning at a "moderate pace" at 8 p.m. Thursday.
"This incident is still classified as out of control and it is displaying more active fire behaviour," she said.
The Thompson-Nicola Regional District issued an evacuation order for 24 addresses in the area just before 6:30 p.m., and later issued an evacuation alert for 31 additional properties north of the fire, requesting people to be ready to leave at a moment's notice.
The Lytton First Nation also issued an evacuation order for several reserves: Nohomeen Indian Reserve 23; Papyum Indian Reserves 27 and 27A; Lytton Indian Reserve 27B; Papyum Graveyard 27C; and Stryen Indian Reserve 9, west of Stein River.
Multiple ground crews, helicopters and air tankers have been deployed to try to gain control over the spreading blaze.
The fire is located on the west side of the Fraser River, across from the Village of Lytton which was destroyed by a raging wildfire a little over a year ago. Homes and property on the west shore, part of the Lytton First Nation Reserve, largely escaped any damage at the time.
MacDonald said ground crews would remain on site overnight and an additional 40 firefighters and personnel were expected Friday morning.
"Crews are continuing to work on the ground and they're helping with structure protection on the south and east flanks of the fire," she said.
"We also have an incident management team which has been deployed, and they will assume command in the coming days."
According to the BCWS, the Nohonim Creek fire was sparked at 12:45 p.m., and the cause of the fire is unknown.
Earlier photos of this latest fire show a large plume of smoke rising from land, with structures in the fire's path. The Lytton ferry, currently out of service because of high Fraser River stream flows, is located nearby. Officials said the fire was being "influenced by gusty winds" after it started Thursday afternoon.
Road access to the area is limited. West shore residents have been crossing the Fraser River by foot, over a CN rail bridge, for weeks now.
The B.C. Hydro website reports power for the municipality of Lytton has been out since 1:16 p.m. Crews are expected to arrive at 5:15 p.m. There are currently 112 people without power.
'Events of 2021 ... are forefront in our minds'
In an update from local and provincial officials at 4:15 p.m., John Haugen, deputy chief of the Lytton First Nation, thanked authorities and residents for their quick response to the fire.
"We have three elders that are in the direct line of this fire and we're working to make sure that they're safe and that we can get the fire out as soon as possible," said Haugen.
"We are experiencing another fire … in the Hell's Gate area. We have to be prepared for many things on really short notice," he said.
Rob Schweitzer, director of fire centre operations in Kamloops, said there are around 54 crew members on the ground and the RCMP and local fire department also responded to the fire.
"The events of 2021 and the impacts to the village of Lytton and the Lytton First Nation are forefront in our minds," said Schweitzer.
"We ask for your respect and kindness as we report on this incident. Our primary objective is the safety of the crews and the residents who are currently impacted."
'Prepare yourself and your family'
Pader Brach, executive director of regional operations with Emergency Management B.C. said he's heard unconfirmed reports that "three structures may have been lost."
Brach said emergency support, including food, lodging and clothing, will be provided to people under an evacuation order for up to 72 hours.
"The most important thing that the public can do right now is to prepare yourself and your family for any potential fires in your areas," said Brock.