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Wildfires around Williams Lake still active

Although fire activity increased on many wildfires in the Cariboo Fire Centre on July 26 and July 27, 2017, fires in the Williams Lake area have not grown substantially in the last few days.

The City of Williams Lake, the Williams Lake Indian Band and the Cariboo Regional District announced on July 27 that their evacuation orders have been modified.

Fire activity can increase quickly in response to wind events and other factors. Residents who are still under an Evacuation Alert are reminded that they must be ready to leave within half an hour.

BC Wildfire Service encourages residents who are deciding whether to return to their homes to consider that there are still multiple, large, uncontained fires in the area. Given the right wind conditions, these fires could grow dramatically.

Should fire activity increase and public safety or escape routes, such as highways, be threatened, the BC Wildfire Service will recommend that current evacuation alerts be upgraded to evacuation orders.

In order for wildfire suppression activities to continue safely and effectively, the public must stay out of active fire areas. The Wildfire Act and the wildfire regulation grant government officials engaged in fire control (including firefighters) the authority to order all persons to leave an area.

Residents who are allowed to return to their homes are reminded that they will be returning to an area that has been profoundly affected by wildfire. Trees that have been damaged by fire can be unstable and may fall down at any time. Ash pits can be hard to detect and can remain hot for days or weeks after the fire has passed through.

Fences in the area have been damaged and so livestock and wildlife affected by fire activity may be on roadways. Smoky conditions are expected to persist in the area for some time.

The public is also reminded that airspace over fires is restricted, so that aircraft engaged in fire suppression can operate safely. Unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs, or drones) may not be operated in the airspace around a wildfire and may not be used to observe fire activity. Even if people do not see aircraft above a fire, the airspace is still restricted.

Although recreational activities on Williams Lake (including boating) are no longer restricted, anyone using a lake in the Cariboo region is reminded to give ample room to any aircraft using the lake for fire suppression activities so they can manoeuvre safely.

Failure to stay out of active wildfire areas or otherwise impeded fire suppression activities — such as the improper use of drones or boats where aircraft are working — can force the BC Wildfire Service to cease firefighting operations, due to safety hazards to both the public and first responders.

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