Updated at 9:45 p.m.: The Ashcroft Reserve fire has grown to 52,600 hectares according to Fire Information Officer Ellie Dupont, adding that the fire has grown in the north.
“Tonight we have crews on it. We’re not expecting it to do much overnight because it’s pretty nice and calm and cool tonight and we’re expecting some cooler weather so we’re hoping to make some good progress and there was progress in several areas in the last couple of days even though we did have fear of the wind event. We made good progress along Highway 97.”
Dupont says that it looks like the fire may miss Clinton and that they’re trying to organise a town meeting tomorrow.
She says that it’s important to remember it’s a very active fire and that there’s no entry back into homes unless people have gotten a pass.
See fire perimeter map at the bottom of the page.
Updated July 16 at 4:20 p.m.:
Mike McCulley of the BC Wildfire Service says that the thick smoke in Ashcroft is being blown from the north as a cold front continues to pass through the region and the wind has shifted and is blowing from the north. “Smoke can travel for hundreds or even thousands of miles,” he says. “This is a big fire that is zero per cent contained.”
He urges residents to stay calm, and be aware of all evacuation orders and alerts. “If an official comes to your door, keep calm and listen to them.”
The Village of Clinton remains on evacuation alert as of the morning of Sunday, July 16, while Loon Lake remains under evacuation order as BC Wildfire crews continue to try to contain the Ashcroft Reserve fire, which now covers 42,000 hectares.
On the evening of July 15 an evacuation order was put in place for properties east of Clinton and 70 Mile and north of Loon Lake, while an evacuation alert has been put in place for properties south of Green Lake. The evacuation orders and alerts, as well as maps showing the areas affected, can be seen at the Thompson-Nicola Regional District website at www.tnrd.ca.
Mike McCulley, a fire information officer with the BC Wildfire Service, told The Journal this morning that the cold front that was expected to bring high winds to the region on July 15 was a little weaker than expected.
“We expect the fire to continue to go to the north and the east slightly,” he says, “but people in Clinton still need to be alert.”
He adds that there is “very significant” fire behaviour in the 16 Mile and Loon Lake areas, and that crews were in place overnight to try to contain the fire and hold the line along Highway 97.
“We’re working to keep protecting structures. Our focus is along the highway corridor, and we continue to reinforce fire guards. The forecast continues to be hot and dry, and windy again, but the best news is that the big winds were not as strong as predicted.
“It’s still a big, active fire, with big risks. The incident commander and team are taking it very seriously.”
Asked about fire damage in the Loon Lake area, McCulley says that it is very hard to say at this point. “We will be working very closely with the TNRD to assess that, but right now it is extremely dangerous to go in.”
As for the possibility of evacuees returning to Cache Creek, McCulley says “We have a huge desire to make it happen, but safety is a priority.”
In Clinton, Susan Swan says that people are feeling a little more optimistic this morning. However, a bus transported residents with health, mobility, and transportation concerns to Kamloops on the evening of July 15. Another run is tentatively planned for Sunday, July 16 for anyone who would like to evacuate while the village is on alert. Call the Clinton Village Office at (250) 459-2261, or watch the Clinton Chatter Facebook page, for details.
Highway 1 remains closed from 10km south of Cache Creek to five kilometres east. Highway 97 is closed from Cache Creek to Clinton, and Highway 99 from Lillooet to Highway 97 is open to local traffic only, with no access to Highway 97. For current highway information, go to www.drivebc.ca.