Forest fire expected to grow

The Stewart/Cassiar fire is expected to get worse. Already pushing 22,000 hectares, the BC fire is just 25 kilometres south of Upper Liard and 35 kilometres from Watson Lake.

The Stewart/Cassiar fire is expected to get worse.

Already pushing 22,000 hectares, the BC fire is just 25 kilometres south of Upper Liard and 35 kilometres from Watson Lake.

And it’s expected to grow as the weather warms up toward the end of the week, said BC fire information officer Lindsay Carnes.

“There’s a ridge building again that will bring in warmer, drier air.”

Heavy smoke has hindered attempts to closely monitor the fire until this week, when things cooled down.

It’s been fairly stable the last few days, she said.

“The cooler weather created less smoke and has allowed us to aggressively action the fire.”

There are 60 firefighters working the blaze, including 20 from the Yukon.

The crews are attacking the fire’s northern flank, building a fuel-free fireguard in hopes of stopping the flames from reaching Upper Liard.

But the fireguard is only the width of a road, and there is a risk the fire could jump it.

“So we are thinking of doing a controlled burn, between the body of the fire and the fireguard,” said Carnes.

This “can be risky,” she said.

“But we wouldn’t do a burnoff if the weather conditions weren’t appropriate.”

Heavy machinery is used to build the fireguard, right down to soil, and the crews come in behind and clean up the mess.

The firefighters are also working to extinguish hotspots near the highway.

And structures in Upper Liard, Junction 37 and at Gold Nugget Lodge have been outfitted with sprinkler systems, just in case.

“At this point it’s only threatening the highway,” said Carnes.

“But we are concerned about the forecasted weather.”

An evacuation notice remains in effect for residents of Junction 37/Nugget City and Upper Liard.

Contact Genesee Keevil at

gkeevil@yukon-news.com