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British Columbia town prepares for a possible 'last stand' as wildfires rage

British Columbia town prepares for a possible 'last stand' as wildfires rage


British Columbia town prepares for a possible 'last stand' as wildfires rage

FORT NELSON, British Columbia — An intense wildfire could reach a town in western Canada this week, fire experts and officials warned, based on forecasts of winds that have fueled the out-of-control blaze, which has forced the evacuation of thousands of people.

The British Columbia Wildfire Service said the wildfire was burning around 1½ miles northwest of Fort Nelson. More than 4,700 people have evacuated after an order was issued on Friday.

Bowinn Ma, the province’s minister of emergency management, said that drought conditions have persisted since last year and no rain is in the forecast.

“We are extremely concerned,” she said. "It is extremely uncommon for us to have so many on a evacuation order."

Cliff Chapman, the service’s director of operations, said they were fortunate that stronger winds didn't materialize overnight, but said that winds were expected to continue to blow west over the next day or two.

“We did not see the winds through the evening,” Chapman said.

He said that helicopters and bulldozers are being used to fight the wildfire, while most ground crews focus on protecting structures.

Fire crews and emergency workers were preparing for a “last stand” if the fire advances into the town, said Rob Fraser, mayor of the Northern Rockies Regional Municipality based in Fort Nelson. Fraser said that less than 100 people remained in town. The wildfire service encouraged those left to leave.

The wildfire had swelled to nearly 20 square miles.