Smoke rises from an area burned by the Shovel Lake wildfire near Endako, B.C. (Darryl Dyck photo)

Bulkley Valley wildfires show slight improvement

Four members of Smithers Fire and Rescue were sent to Burns Lakes on the weekend.

On Aug 21 Smithers Fire Chief Keith Stecko was deployed to the B.C. Wildfire Service’s Burns Lakes operation centre to assist with the Shovel Lake wildfire.

“Just trying to help out and do my part,” Stecko said of his deployment.

Stecko isn’t sure how long he’ll be deployed but expects to be there for at least 14 days.

Deputy chief Kelly Zacharias will assume Stecko’s duties while he’s gone.

Four more members of Smithers Fire and Rescue were sent to Burns Lakes on the weekend to replace a crew that had been sent previously.

The new crew will also be deployed for 14 days.

An area restriction order went into place for Crown land in the vicinity of the Shovel Lake wildfire on Monday.

The Shovel Lake wildfire is about six kilometres north of Fraser Lake, and about 30 kilometres southwest of Fort St. James and is among the largest burning in the province.

This area restriction is being implemented to protect public safety – due to this wildfire’s behaviour and potential impacts on forest service roads (such as fire-damaged trees and nearby fire activity) – and to avoid interference with firefighting activities the BC Wildfire Service said in a press release.

This order will remain in place until noon on Sept. 15, 2018, or until it is rescinded.

As of the beginning of the week, a fire guard was put in place on the south side of the 912 square kilometre fire.

Officials say the guard will will prevent the fire from moving any further south.

The fire has not progressed any closer to Fort St James or Highway 17 and officials remain hopeful.

Still, an evacuation alert for Fort St. James remains in place.

While the Shovel Lake area restriction order is in effect people are not allowed to remain in or enter the restricted area without prior written authorization of an official designated for the purposes of the Wildfire Act, unless the person enters the area only in the course of:

travelling to or from his or her principal residence that is not under an evacuation order;

using a highway as defined in the Transportation Act;

travelling to or from an industrial activity or business location;

travelling through or entering the area as a person acting in an official capacity; or

travelling through or entering the area for an approved purpose of supporting wildfire suppression activities.

It’s not all bad news as a portion of an earlier evacuation order issued has been rescinded.

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