Windy Forecast For Cariboo Wildfires

A wildfire burns on a mountain in the distance east of Cache Creek B.C. in the early morning hours of Monday

Kevin Skrepnek, chief information officer for the BC Wildfire Service, says improved smoke conditions over the last 24 hours have permitted a more accurate size assessment of the almost 200 wildfires burning in the province, many of them in the Cariboo fire centre.

That's bad news for fire crews, as the winds could cause fires to spread farther.

An evacuation order was issued Friday night for Loon Lake, and evacuation alerts were issued for Tatla Lake, Big Creek and the village of Clinton, all in the southern Cariboo region.

Unit crews began lighting controlled fires west of Williams Lake on Thursday, where almost 11,000 people have been on standby since Monday to evacuate at a moment's notice. An evacuation alert was issued Saturday for the Clisbako area.

Skrepnek says possible strong winds is one reason to stay out of the back country.

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

The Princeton fire, which is an estimated 2,700 hectares in size is now 10 per cent contained.

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Crews are being commended for not allowing the fire to jump Highway 97.

Geoff Paynton, director of communications for the Williams Lake emergency operations centre, said there was enough food and gasoline in the city as trucks were getting through.

The BC Wildfire Service said the three major fires around the city are now 40 to 60 per cent contained.

Wildfire conditions in B.C. are expected to worsen over the weekend as officials predict winds to pick up, fanning dozens of flare-ups that have forced more than 16,000 people from their homes.

The Chilcotin region, near Williams Lake, stands as the largest fire - made up of several smaller fires - at 40,000 hectares in size.

Meanwhile, Skrepnek discouraged people entering the backcountry.

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