The Alaska Highway between Coal River, B.C., and the Yukon border has re-opened, but Lower Post, B.C., remains under an evacuation order as a fire continues to burn “in and around the community.”
The Lutz Creek fire was approximately 4,000 hectares in size and burning about five kilometres south of Lower Post, about 20 kilometres southeast of Watson Lake, when British Columbia officials ordered the evacuation Aug. 21.
Now, the fire is estimated to be more than 6,000 hectares in size, BC Wildfire Service fire information officer Carolyn Bartos confirmed Aug. 23, and is burning “in and around” Lower Post.
The fire jumped the Liard River overnight between Aug. 21 and 22, leading to a brief withdrawal of firefighters for safety reasons. There are now 30 firefighters on the ground battling the flames as well as two pieces of heavy equipment, three water trucks and a number of helicopters.
Bartos confirmed there had been “structure loss” but could not provide details.
Emergency Management BC information officer Glen Plummer said that the Lutz Creek fire is still “very active” and crews have not yet had a chance to assess what damage, if any, has occurred.
The evacuation of Lower Post is complete, he added, and all residents are safe and accounted for.
Lower Post evacuees are being welcomed at the Watson Lake Recreation Centre.
Members of Yukon’s Wildland Fire Management branch as well as the Watson Lake Fire Department and fire marshal’s office are in Lower Post assisting crews, according to a bulletin from Wildland Fire Management and tweets by Yukon Protective Services.
The Alaska Highway between Coal River, B.C., and the Yukon border was closed Aug. 21 due to fire activity, but one lane was reopened Aug. 22 with pilot cars leading alternating flows of traffic. The highway has since been completely reopened.
In the Yukon, the Poison Lake fire, in the Watson Lake area, continues to burn but is not a threat to the town. However, an evacuation alert remains in place for kilometre 44 to 60 of the Robert Campbell Highway due to “fires next to the road.” The same stretch of highway was also closed to traffic Aug. 21 but has since reopened.
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