NEWS
05/13/2019 17:41 EDT | Updated 05/13/2019 17:41 EDT

B.C. Gets Through Wildfire Weekend That Prompted Evacuation Orders

The province will be stepping up enforcement going into the May long weekend as a precaution.

HO/THE CANADIAN PRESS
People watch a wildfire burn in Fraser Lake, B.C., May 11, 2019.

KAMLOOPS, B.C. — The BC Wildfire Service has come through its busiest period of the young 2019 wildfire season, responding to several blazes, including one that prompted an evacuation order west of Prince George.

Weather has been unseasonably warm in the province, but wildfire service spokesman Kevin Skrepnek said they believe fire conditions will improve.

"Bit of an early season blip," said Skrepnek in an interview.

Temperatures are due to fall between four and eight degrees, accompanied by showers, he said.

"We are expecting a return to much more seasonal conditions."

A blazing wildfire

A short, intense heat wave set temperature records in many parts of B.C. last week and raised the fire danger rating to moderate or high over much of the province, with pockets of extreme danger in small areas around Prince George.

A blaze broke out Saturday near the community of Lejac, about five kilometres west of Fraser Lake, and flames had scorched more than two square kilometres of bush within hours.

A state of local emergency was declared and an evacuation order was issued, but that order had been downgraded to an alert by late Sunday while the emergency declaration was rescinded.

HO-BC Wildfire Service/THE CANADIAN PRESS
The Lejac wildfire prompted a local state of emergency and several evacuations.

Two small fires, one north of Fort St. John and another just east of Kamloops, were also handled by wildfire service crews, aircraft and other equipment.

"Things have definitely stabilized. That's good news," said Skrepnek.

A wet May and June will be the key to heading off another devastating wildfire season, he said, cautioning that the past weekend should not be considered a sign of bad conditions to come.

Watch: B.C. Wildfires Create Some Surreal Scenes In The Province And Its Neighbours. Story continues below.

"How much rain we get between the May long weekend and the Canada Day long weekend really sets the stage for how the summer is going to go."

The wildfire service lists both the fire near Fraser Lake and the one near Kamloops as under investigation but possibly human caused and Skrepnek urged caution as the province prepares for the upcoming three-day weekend.

"There will be a stepped up level of enforcement," he said, "not just for fires, but to ensure people are behaving themselves out there," he said.

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