NEWS
07/24/2018 11:19 EDT | Updated 07/24/2018 12:32 EDT

Evacuation Order Lifted As B.C. Highway 1 Wildfire Crews Hit Hard At New Blaze

The burning area is just under one square kilometre and the cause is under investigation.

CANADIAN PRESS/Jeff Bassett
A helicopter battles a wildfire along the shore line of Highway 97 heading towards Summerland B.C. on July 18, 2018.

VANCOUVER — A wildfire cut Highway 1 through British Columbia's southern Interior late Monday as a fire flared near the community of Spences Bridge, but conditions eased slightly overnight, allowing a pilot car to escort travellers through the area.

The BC Wildfire Service says the blaze is just under one square kilometre in size and the cause is under investigation.

It was reported at around 4 p.m., prompting the Thompson-Nicola Regional District to issue an evacuation order for three properties nearest the flames and an evacuation alert for the community of Spences Bridge and part of the surrounding area.

The evacuation order was downgraded just hours later as firefighters managed to push the flames away from the homes and nearby Highway 1.

Drive BC, the provincial government's online service for travellers, says Highway 1 is open to single lane, alternating traffic led by a pilot car, but drivers are cautioned that the route could close again at any time if the fire shifts.

Recent downpours in central and northeastern B.C. have helped push the fire danger rating to low or very low in many parts of the province, but the northwestern corner and southern third of the province remain at a high or extreme risk of wildfires.

In the Okanagan Valley, where several lightning-caused fires have been burning for a week, the Regional District of Okanagan-Similkameen downgraded more evacuation orders to alerts as crews make progress on the 18-square-kilometres Mount Eneas fire.