UPDATE: Evacuation alert issued for wildfire burning southwest of Vanderhoof

Firefighters work to secure flanks

Cutoff Creek Fire (Submitted photo)

Cutoff Creek Fire (Submitted photo)

An evacuation alert is in place as the BC Wildfire Service (BCWS) battles an 886-hectare blaze north of the Big Bend Arm, southwest of Vanderhoof.

On Tuesday, July 6, crews and equipment were working to secure the south and west flanks of the lightning-caused fire with aerial support, noted BCWS.

A total of 51 firefighters, four helicopters and eight pieces of heavy equipment were on scene.

“There’s probably less than half a dozen people that we’re touching base and keeping in close contact,” Regional District of Bulkley-Nechako (RDBN) chair Gerry Thiessen said.

Due to the potential danger to life and health, an evacuation alert was issued Monday afternoon for the Cutoff Creek area by the RDBN.

The Cutoff Creek area is approximately 60 kilometers south along Kenney Dam Road to Knewstubb Lake and six kilometres west of Kluskus Forest Service Road along the Natalkuz 500 Road to Knewstubb Lake.

Joe Doerig, who co-owns the Nechako Lodge with his spouse, Elisabeth witnessed billowing smoke Tuesday afternoon.

His property at 2500-500 Road, where some firefighters have spent their nights, is included in the evacuation alert.

Doerig said protection measures were in place, including sprinklers, and that he was not nervous as he has seen his fair share of fires in the 30-plus years he and Elisabeth have owned Neckako Lodge.

“I have respect. No fear,” he said of wildfires.

Another unrelated fire near Chilako, south of Vanderhoof, has been tougher to attack. Crews have been forced to indirectly suppress the blaze.

Read More: UPDATE: Fire south of Vanderhoof upgraded to wildfire of note

The lightning-caused fire has grown to an estimated 1,471 hectares since it was discovered Wednesday, June 30.

Thiessen said thick smoke could be seen rolling into Vanderhoof Tuesday morning, likely as a result of changing winds.

“Because we live in a valley, we seem to have struggled with smoke in the past more so than many other communities do,” he said, encouraging individuals with breathing issues to stay indoors.

This year according to Thiessen, has been extremely dry, and he urges everyone, including recreationists and industry, to exercise caution as one single spark could easily get carried away, resulting in a large fire.

He said there are no words to describe his grief for the Village of Lytton that was mainly destroyed by wildfire last week.

“We have people that are residents of Vanderhoof that grew up in Lytton, and when you see your hometown devastated to that kind of a degree, it’s unbelievable, and so for us, we ache for them.”

Read More: Know how to evacuate in event of a fire, say B.C. emergency management officials

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