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Fire evacuation continues in B.C.

Residents chased from their homes by a wild fire in the B.C. Interior are itching to get back to their properties

VANCOUVER — Residents chased from their homes by a wild fire in the B.C. Interior are itching to get back to their properties

It’s been more than a week since some evacuees have seen their homes or businesses near the Tyaughton Lake forest fire, about 65 kilometres west of Lillooet.

Several of the 75 people who either live or own businesses in the evacuated communities threatened by fire are pushing the regional district to lift the evacuation order.

District information officer Leslie Lloyd said evacuees want to know when they can return.

“We’re certainly getting messages from residents and businesses in those areas who are anxious to know if and when it’s possible to get back to their homes and property and daily life and business.”

Fire crews have about half of the 80-square-kilometre fire contained and have placed sprinkler systems around many of the threatened residential properties.

Lloyd said officials will re-evaluate the evacuation orders in the next few days with an eye towards downgrading the order to an evacuation alert, but only if fire conditions remain the same or improve.

The communities of Marshall Lake, Liza Lake, Carol Lake, Mud Creek, Tyaughton Lake and Gun Creek Road remain on evacuation order. Despite that order, Lloyd said seven people refused to leave the danger area.

Fire crews are making headway on the other major fire in the province near the B.C.-Yukon border.

The Smith River fire is about 230 square kilometres in size.

B.C. fire information officer Jillian Chimko said crews are working along the west flank of the fire hoping to stop the flames from jumping a nearby highway and moving into communities.

“They have been doing some burn-off procedures in the area in order to increase the fuel-free area.”

The fire is considered about 30 per cent contained.

Three communities with a total population of about 15 people are on evacuation alert.

Chimko said a fresh shift of provincial firefighters and crews from Ontario have been brought in to help with the exhausting effort. The terrain in the area is very difficult to access, which is why crews haven’t been able to get the upper hand on the fire, Chimko said. It’s hot and windy in the area, but there was a small amount of rain Friday night that gave some relief.

The fire season started early in B.C. and the provincial forest minister says it’s getting expensive.

Pat Bell said it has cost government about $15 million so far this spring to fight the fires.

“The really disturbing part of all this is 84 per cent of the fires in B.C. so far have been human caused,” Bell said.