05/14/2013 06:47 EDT | Updated 07/14/2013 05:12 EDT

Thompson Nicola Evacuation Order Lifted As BC Wildfire Spares Homes


ASHCROFT, B.C. - Relieved property owners in an area east of Ashcroft, B.C., were allowed to return to their homes Monday night -- but they must remain ready to flee at a moment's notice.

The 14-square kilometre Spatsum Creek wildfire continues to burn nearby and remains uncontained, but it has veered away from homes and away from Highway 97C, which was closed on Monday.

The highway reopened late Monday afternoon and the evacuation order was completely lifted by early Monday evening, as winds abated after fanning the fire through the weekend.

An evacuation alert is still in effect for a large area known as Blue Sky Country, just east of Ashcroft, and the Wildfire Management Branch confirmed about 80 firefighters, five helicopters, heavy equipment and air tankers battled the flames Monday.

The Spatsum Creek fire broke out on April 27 and is believed to have been caused by humans — one of 43 human-caused fires the Kamloops Fire Centre has responded to since April 1.

Because of recent hot, dry weather, all open burning has been prohibited in the fire centre, except in the Clearwater and Salmon Arm fire zones, but the ban will apply to those regions as of June 15.


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