Caution was stressed by local officials in Kiwanis Park in Williams Lake who announced at noon on Thursday that residents can return home.
An evacuation order issued on July 15 has been down downgraded to an alert for the City and majority of the surrounding areas.
Krista Dunleavey with the BC Wildfire Service says it’s important for everyone to be aware that fire activity can increase quickly in response to wind events and other factors.
“Before deciding to return the BC Wildfire Service encourages residents to consider that there are still multiple large uncontained fires in the area that will grow given the right wind conditions and fire growth could be dramatic.”
Dunleavey adds that’s important for residents to note that they are returning to an area that is profoundly affected by wildfire.
“Trees damaged by fires can be unstable and can come down at any time. Ash pits can be hard to see and can remain hot for days or weeks after the fire has passed through. Fences have been damaged and livestock as well as wildlife disrupted by the fire activity maybe on roadways.”
Smoky conditions are also expected to persist in the area for some time with Chair of the Cariboo Regional District, Al Richmond cautioning that they could become extremely poor.
Fire Information Officer Melinda Paplawski says although the wind came Wednesday there where some clouds which did knock down the temperatures down.
“We got some of the aircraft on the move today and we’re going to have basically the same strategy we’re working on, putting together quite a bit of machine guard around the perimeters. We have over 400 people out there so they’re going to be working hard. We also have over 100 pieces of equipment going as well.”
Paplawski says they will not be using containment numbers for the time being as they keep changing and do not give an accurate picture of the fire situation.
She says they continue to prepare for the worst from mother nature which is hot temperatures and winds.
Evacuation orders remain in place for areas north and south of Mountain House Road including Wildwood, the Spokin Lake area, areas along Soda Creek Road, and Frizzi Road, Soda Creek First Nation, and areas in the Chilcotin.
“We flew around yesterday with the Fire Centre; we had other elected officials, members from the RCMP with us,” says Mayor of Williams Lake Walt Cobb who noted that some areas are pretty devastated. “We evaluated the risk. We sat around the table and decided can we do this, is it safe to bring people home.”
“We know there’s still a risk, we cannot emphasize that, but we can’t keep people away forever.”