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Evacuations ordered as human-caused wildfire sparks near Fraser Lake

Evacuations ordered as human-caused wildfire sparks near Fraser Lake

Firefighters in central British Columbia have made significant progress in containing a wildfire burning west of Prince George on Sunday, during the busiest weekend this year for the B.C. Wildfire Service.

As of Sunday evening, that fire was categorized as being held.

Earlier: A wildfire has broken out in B.C.'s Central Interior, and fire officials believe it to be human-caused.

BC Hydro wouldn't say whether the outages were connected to the wildfire.

Gerry Thiessen, board chair with the Regional District of Bulkley-Nechako, said even though winds died down overnight, the big concern is a change in the weather pattern arriving Sunday into Monday.

The Regional District of Bulkley-Nechako issued a state of emergency Saturday night and ordered people to leave an area near the community of Lejac, about five kilometres east of Fraser Lake.

Road closures are possible east of Kamloops as an out-of-control wildfire has charred about 19 hectares after breaking out Sunday, but no structures are immediately threatened by the suspected human-caused fire.

"This fire sounds like a fricking freight train", said a Facebook-user with the name Beverly Ketlo.

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Forty firefighters, two helicopters and several pieces of heavy equipment are now deployed to fight the blaze.

The Lejac wildfire, along an area south of Highway 16 and roughly 5 kilometers east of the Village of Fraser Lake, has swallowed up some 260 hectares.

Residents in Prince George said Saturday evening they could smell smoke from the fire and see a hazy horizon at sunset.

"We haven't had any significant snow or rain since nearly Christmas so that's a real concern for us", he said.

Sixteen firefighters, aided by air tankers, are fighting the blaze, which is causing extensive smoke and appears to be spreading rapidly.

Having grown up in the area, Thiessen said wildfires are not uncommon in July and August, but it's rare to have such a large blaze so early in the season.

Fraser Lake Mayor Sarrah Storey told CBC News on Saturday night that the fire was visible from the community and described the flames as "impressive".