Wildfires Force Evacuation of Fort Nelson, Close Highway 7 at B.C.-N.W.T. Border

A rapidly growing wildfire in northeast British Columbia prompts evacuation of thousands of residents in Fort Nelson and surrounding areas. The fire, suspected to be human-caused, has grown to 8 square kilometers and poses an immediate threat to life, health, and property.

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Wildfires Force Evacuation of Fort Nelson, Close Highway 7 at B.C.-N.W.T. Border

Wildfires Force Evacuation of Fort Nelson, Close Highway 7 at B.C.-N.W.T. Border

A rapidly growing wildfire has prompted the evacuation of thousands of residents in northeast British Columbia, with the Northern Rockies Regional Municipality and Fort Nelson First Nations issuing an evacuation order for the town of Fort Nelson and surrounding area around 7:15 p.m. on Friday. The fire, located approximately 12 kilometers west of Fort Nelson, has grown to 8 square kilometers in size and poses an immediate threat to life, health, and property.

Why this matters: The rapid spread of wildfires in British Columbia highlights the increasing risk of natural disasters in the region, exacerbated by climate change and dry conditions. The impact of these events can have far-reaching consequences for local communities, infrastructure, and the environment.

The wildfire, named Parker Lake (G90267), is "highly visible" from the town, according to officials. Ground crews, nine bucketing helicopters, and air tanker support are currently battling the blaze. The fire grew rapidly on Friday, fueled by wind gusts exceeding 70 kilometers per hour and a dry cold front that caused the wind direction to shift rapidly.

As a result of the wildfire, Highway 7 has been closed at the Northwest Territories and British Columbia border. The Alaska Highway (Highway 97) has also been shut down due to the fire. Residents have been ordered to evacuate immediately to the Fort St. John Reception Centre at the North Peace Arena, located 380 kilometers away.

The Northern Rockies Regional Municipality advised residents, "If you have a recreational vehicle, or your own vehicle, fuel stations are being planned along the route south." Those unable to evacuate are advised to call 9-1-1. Impacted residents must register for Emergency Support Services (ESS) for short-term basic support.

B.C. Premier David Eby expressed support for the evacuees, stating, "Thinking of people evacuated from Fort Nelson and Fort Nelson First Nation as wildfire activity grows close to their communities. BC Wildfire Service is responding and we will be working around the clock to support people."

The fire is suspected to be human-caused and was first detected on Friday. The Yukon government reported a 911 andtelecommunications outagein the territory due to the wildfire, affecting internet, landlines, and cellphones. Residents needing to report an emergency were advised to go to the nearest RCMP station or detachment, health centre, or hospital.

The evacuation order for the town of Fort Nelson and surrounding area, including the Fort Nelson First Nation, remains in effect as firefighters continue to battle the blaze. Residents are urged to follow the instructions of local authorities and stay updated on the wildfire situation through official channels.