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Delta sends help to battle BC wildfires

Delta sends help to battle BC wildfires

More than 14,000 people have been forced out of their homes, many of whom have gone to evacuation centres set up in Prince George and Kamloops.

Kevin Skrepnek, chief information officer for the BC Wildfire Service, says improved smoke conditions over the last 24 hours have permitted a more accurate size assessment of the almost 200 wildfires burning in the province, many of them in the Cariboo fire centre.

"The big weather concern at the moment is the outlook for this weekend", he said.

About 680 blazes have consumed 1,110 square kilometres of grass, bush, forest and in some cases neighbourhoods since the fire season began in April, Skrepnek said.

There are now 167 wildfires burning in British Columbia.

There are more than 16,000 evacuees and more than 4,000 families registered with Red Cross.

Crews from Metro Vancouver and Vancouver Island joined the more than 3,000 people battling the flames.

Unit crews began lighting controlled fires west of Williams Lake on Thursday, where almost 11,000 people have been on standby since Monday to evacuate at a moment's notice. Controlled burns allow for the fuel to burn in a controlled setting before fires potentially move to the areas, due to wind.

An area restriction order has been issued for Williams Lake.

A Delta staff member and a Delta firefighter have been deployed to Williams Lake where they are assisting the Caribou Regional District Emergency Operations Centre, while six Delta police officers have been deployed to various locations around Williams Lake and 100 Mile House.

"The wind speed is going to be variable, depending on the area we're talking about, generally 20-40 kilometres and hour but certainly in some areas - Fraser Canyon areas like that that are particularly prone to wind, we could be seeing gusts of 70 kilometres an hour in those areas".

Dozens of provincial parks, ecological reserves and protected areas have also been closed in the fire centre because of the wildfire hazard.