Wildfire in southeast B.C. forces evacuation of hundreds of properties

More people are being forced from their homes in a community in southeastern B.C. this weekend due to an out-of-control wildfire.

The BC Wildfire Service says the blaze, which started Friday night, near St. Mary’s Reserve 14 kilometres northeast of Cranbrook is about 400 hectares in size.

The Regional District of East Kootenay issued new evacuation orders to more than 200 properties in the region Saturday afternoon.

Those homes add to the 174 properties already evacuated near Moyie Lake and 30 homes within First Nation territory.

The First Nation’s spokeswoman Jodi Gravelle issued a news release saying that a perimeter guard protecting the community has not been breached by the fire and officials hope the evacuation order will soon be rescinded.

More properties in the area remain on alert, meaning residents have to be ready to leave at a moment’s notice.

In the Cariboo region where the two largest fires in the province are burning, officials have expanded area restrictions.

The wildfire service says people are not allowed to come within 10 kilometres a massive blaze southwest of Williams Lake as well as the largest fire the province’s recorded history, which is northwest of Williams Lake.

More than a dozen other area restrictions near fires in the district are also in place to ensure fire crews can work without interference and maintain public safety.

The wildfire service is directing people to their website to find detailed maps of the restrictions on Crown land.

There were more than 160 fires burning across the province Friday, and the wildfire service says unseasonably hot and dry conditions through the weekend could fuel fire activity.

The province is encouraging people to stay out of the woods in the Cariboo, Kamloops and southeast fire centres that have been hardest-hit by the fires this season.

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