Strong winds cause for concern in and around wildfire-ravaged areas

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According to the BC Wildfire Service, there are 2,991 firefighters and other personnel now fighting the fires including 363 from out-of-province, 1,020 contractors and there are 192 helicopters and planes supporting ground crews.

Chief fire information officer Kevin Skrepnek said crews have had success in conducting controlled burns in the past few days near Williams Lake, 150 Mile House and 100 Mile House in anticipation, but he said the wind is still a serious concern.

None of the fires in the region are large enough to be causing the smoke that has moved into the area. "We are also grateful when others assist us, like they did previous year with the Burns Bog fire".

Since the start of the year, more than 128,000 hectares have burned and $77 million has been spent on fire suppression, according to Skrepnek.

More than 14,000 people have been forced out of their homes, many of whom have gone to evacuation centres set up in Prince George and Kamloops.

Many businesses in Williams Lake have already shut down due to a lack of customers. An evacuation alert was issued Saturday for the Clisbako area.

"The public can expect to see more smoky skies as the wind prevails from the west", said Shaughnessy.

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Some staff has already apparently chose to leave the region, not waiting on the official evacuation alert to be upgraded to an official order.

Meanwhile, Skrepnek discouraged people entering the backcountry.

Rob Turner, assistant deputy minister for Emergency Management B.C., said some 4,000 families had registered with Canadian Red Cross as of Friday afternoon. Officials there are saying the fire is still 20 per cent contained.

Areas under evacuation alert have also expanded to include more homes in the Big Creek area, Tatla Lake residents and the Village of Clinton.

"Unfortunately, significant rain continues to elude the southern half of the province for the foreseeable future", Environment Canada said.

The Cariboo Fire Centre is restricting access to four lakes in the region to assist with local firefighting efforts.

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