A warming and drying trend followed by unsettled conditions brought in by a cold front, fueled significant growth on the Cutoff Creek wildfire southwest of Vanderhoof.
As of Monday, August 16, the blaze located approximately two kilometres north of Big Bend Arm was estimated at 31,602 hectares.
An evacuation order was issued two days earlier by the Regional District of Bulkley-Nechako (RDBN), Saik’uz First Nation and BC Parks.
“It’s sad,” said RDBN chair and mayor of Vanderhoof, Gerry Thiessen.
“We had a lot of wind last week, and it appeared that we were going to get through that wind event without any fires coming back to life.”
Prince George Fire Centre (PGFC) communications specialist Sharon Nickel said there were sustained winds of up to 70 km/h on Friday, August 13 that continued on Saturday and Sunday.
Due to limited visibility, aerial support was grounded over the weekend.
An area restriction for the vicinity of the fire remains in place and was recently expanded to an additional area to the east, including Bobtail Lake and part of Finger Tatuk Park, for public safety and to limit travel in and out of areas where fire suppression activities may occur.
Crews were working to build machine guards south from Kluskus Forest Service Road (FSR) to Andros Lake.
“Heavy equipment is working to widen the break along the Kluskus FSR to establish a wide control line,” Nickel added.
“Mop-up continues along the FSR as well to establish safe access to the fire for suppression personnel.”
Thiessen said he hopes there will be cooler temperatures and less wind in the days ahead, with rain being a welcomed bonus.
As of Aug. 16 both Thiessen and PGFC confirmed there had been no structure loss.
“Hopefully, the firefighters can hold the line, and we’ll be ok,” Thiessen said, noting timber losses will likely have a future impact on communities in Northern B.C that will have to continue to look at opportunities to diversify their economy.
“We’re more prepared this year than three years ago in 2018, so we’ll just continue to get more prepared and work at it continually.”