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HomeNewsFallen telephone pole the likely cause of Fort Nelson wildfire

Fallen telephone pole the likely cause of Fort Nelson wildfire

Roughly 3,500 people were evacuated from Fort Nelson and the Fort Nelson First Nation due to an out of control wildfire last night (Friday).

Pedro Rolden-Delgado, a Fire Information Officer with the Prince George Fire Centre, said a combination of dry conditions and winds of up to 70 kilometers an hour stoked the flames quickly and pushed the fire toward the town.

“It was a recipe for a fire to grow,” he said.

While flagged as human-caused, what started the wildfire is still under investigation. However, Rob Fraser, the mayor of Fort Nelson, believes it was a downed power line.

“They are calling it man-made, but that includes a tree falling on a power line,” Fraser said. “That was the initial report we got, a tree blew over onto a power line in that windstorm. When our crews showed up, that’s what it looked like had happened.”

Looking back on last night, Fraser said the evacuation order started at 6:00. By 10:00, he said “pretty much everybody was removed out of the community.”

“We had a reception centre set up in Fort St. John,” he said. “Most people went there and were [placed] into hotels in Fort St John, Dawson Creek, and eventually Chetwynd. And every little pullout along the Alaska highway is filled with people who took their RV and found a spot to pull over.”

As of noon, the Parker Lake wildfire is still out of control and estimated at roughly 1,700 hectares large.

It is the only wildfire of note in the province right now.

“If the wind stays in our favour and we are able to get some air assets on it, I am feeling optimistic,” Fraser said.

“It is really important for people to stay calm… There are professionals on this. Anyone who decided not to leave should rethink that decision.”

Anyone who requires help evacuating is being asked to phone the Northern Rockies Regional Municipality (NRRM) at 250-775-0933.

An evacuee reception centre has also been set up at Exhibition Park in Prince George.

At this time, there is no indication as to when people will be able to return home.

Fraser and Rolden-Delgado both recommend keeping a close eye on the NRRM website for further updates.

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