DAWSON CREEK -- The West Kaskatinaw River wildfire has grown from nearly 4,000 hectares to an estimated 15,000, prompting expanded Evacuation Orders twice in one day.

The fire was likely caused by lighting from last weekend with warm and dry conditions causing the fire’s rapid growth.

Forrest Tower, B.C. Wildfire information officer, explains that the fire is currently burning out of control at an intensity level of six. The fire experienced levels of five and six yesterday.

According to B.C. Wildfire, an intensity of that level has an organized crown fire front, long-range spotting and independent spot fire growth, possible fireballs and whirls, violent fire behaviour probable and a dominant smoke column.

Tower says the possible fireballs are enough to damage infrastructure.

Fire conditions are extremely dangerous. There are also challenges working with heavy equipment to contain the fire due to the terrain.

The wind is also constantly changing directions.

"This morning, going into this afternoon, [the wind] was headed in a almost direct westerly direction. And so where the fire is situated, that is pushing the fire pretty much directly at Tumbler Ridge now with the wind shift. It is a little bit in a northwest direction and so it's not traveling directly at it, but it still is moving in that direction," says Tower.

Currently, there are two unit crews and two helicopter at the scene of the fire. An incident management team has been put in place. The PRRD said 85 properties are under the Alert with 55 properties under the Evacuation Order.

The following is a summary of all the areas that are now included in Evacuation Order #3 due to immediate threat to life safety:

  • along Hwy 52E between km 220 (Cutbank Dam) and km 195
  • following the Kiskatinaw River west to south of Bearhole Lake and including Bearhole Lake Road to the District of Tumbler Ridge boundary
  • North following the Tumbler Ridge boundary to Hwy 29S, including Moose Lake and Moose Lake Forestry Service Road
  • In a northeast direction to a point of intersection at Hwy 52 N, on the east side of the Highway (Not including the highway) to the northern most intersection of the Moore road (Approx. Km 33 on Highway 52N)
  • West following Halfmoon Creek, Oetata Creek to the Kiskatinaw River to a point of intersection at the Cutbank Dam at Highway 52E.