08/13/2014 12:08 EDT | Updated 10/13/2014 05:59 EDT

Northwestern B.C. residents ordered to evacuate due to wildfire near Houston

HOUSTON, B.C. - British Columbians living near the northwestern community of Houston have been ordered to evacuate due to a raging wildfire.

The Regional District of Bulkley-Nechako has declared a local state of emergency, and residents living in 19 rural properties that are being threatened by the China Nose wildfire have been ordered to flee.

The Wildfire Management Branch says the 16.4-square kilometre blaze, burning 15 kilometres southeast of Houston, was sparked by lightning, and extremely dry weather conditions are making things worse.

Evacuees are told to register for emergency social services at the Burns Lake Heritage Centre.

The China Nose fire is among several that broke out Monday, including one west of Bull Canyon near Alexis Creek in the Cariboo region, that has forced sporadic closures of Highway 20, the only road leading to the central coast community of Bella Coola.

Regional District Chair Bill Miller says the wildfire has also prompted an evacuation alert for roughly 60 homes along Highway 16.