Residents of approximately 60 rural properties along a ribbon of Highway 16 have been told by to leave their homes immediately "due to immediate danger of life safety," and a wider area has been put on evacuation alert.
The China Nose fire, burning 15 kilometres southeast of Houston, has grown to 2,900 hectares in size since being discovered Monday, and is zero per cent contained.
On Wednesday, a state of local emergency was declared and 19 rural properties near Houston were put under an evacuation order. B.C. Parks also ordered the closure of Old Man Lake Provincial Park to all recreational uses.
As chair of the Regional District of Bulkley-Nechako, which issues the orders, Bill Miller has seen wildfires prompt evacuations before.
The last serious wildfire, in 2010, saw flames eat up stands of dry beetle-killed pine and creep close enough to homes to cause concern. This year, conditions are drier still, and the fire has so far been fierce and unpredictable.
"It's a little more of a volatile situation," he told CBC News Friday morning. "I've got stock trailers myself, so I'll be helping neighbours move stock as well."
Reception centres for displaced residents have been set up at the College of New Caledonia in Burns Lake and at Houston's municipal office.
Miller hopes the evacuation order that went into force this morning will get everyone to safety, before tonight's expected cold front brings more wind, which could fan the flames.
Highway 16 closed, area restriction in effect
The fire's uncontrolled growth also led to the closure of a 34-kilometre stretch of Highway 16 between Burns Lake and Topley,to the east of Houston, which went into effect at 6 a.m. PT Friday.
"An alternative route will be available via Colleymount/Morice roads, except to oversize/permitted traffic," DriveBC's online service said.
The highway, which connects Prince George with Prince Rupert, is expected to remain closed for 24 to 48 hours.
Last Thursday night, the Northwest Fire Centre initiated an access restriction order for recreational areas surrounding the fire, making McKilligan, Swan Lake, Heading Creek, Poisent Creek and Gilmore Lake forest service roads and portions of the Thompson Creek Forest Service Road north of Maxan Lake off-limits to anyone without written authorization.
Chelaslie Fire grows
The Chelaslie River wildfire, burning near Entiako Provincial Park since early July, has grown to an estimated 107,000 hectares as of Friday.
Near the end of July, BC Parks closed Entiako Provincial Park and issued an evacuation order for all cabin owners and any other persons within the park due to the fire, which is burning about 7 kilometres south of the Chelaslie River.