Watson area fire doubles

The wildfire burning 12 kilometres from the Yukon border has doubled in size since Wednesday. Now spanning 20,000 hectares, the fire has kept Upper Liard and Junction 37 on an evacuation notice.

The wildfire burning 12 kilometres from the Yukon border has doubled in size since Wednesday.

Now spanning 20,000 hectares, the fire has kept Upper Liard and Junction 37 on an evacuation notice. There are approximately 350 forest fires burning in BC, and the Stewart-Cassiar fire on the Yukon border is the largest.

“Most of the fire’s growth has been to the southwest,” said fire information officer George Maratos on Friday.

“And cooler temperatures are expected over the weekend, which is good,” he said.

“And, right now, the winds are calm.”

Wildland Fire has set up sprinkler kits to protect structures at Junction 37 and at Gold Nugget Lodge.

And a values protection plan is currently being developed for the Upper Liard area.

Fire management is considering sending 20 Yukon fire personnel to BC to help set up and manage the fire line on the northern flank of Highway 37. And BC will be hiring approximately 10 First Nation members from Upper Liard and 10 First Nation members from Lower Post to work in support. Known as “emergency firefighters” they typically do non-specialized manual labour to support trained crew members and other logistical operations.

Less than 35 kilometres from Watson Lake, and roughly 25 kilometres from Upper Liard, the fire has filled the region with smoke, which can pose a health risk to those with asthma or other respiratory conditions, said Yukon Medical Officer of Health Brendan Hanley in a release on Thursday.

“People with respiratory conditions should take extra caution,” said Hanley.

“They are reminded to stay inside their house with the windows closed and reduce unnecessary physical activity. In addition, if they take medication for their respiratory condition, they should ensure they have it available and take it as prescribed.”

A fire-info centre has been set up at the emergency medical services building across from Tags in Watson Lake, for tourists and residents with questions about the fire. There’s also information posted at the post office, the liquor store and the visitor information centre. The Stewart-Cassiar Highway will remain closed until it is safe to pilot vehicles through. For more information check www.drivebc.ca.

The Yukon’s Wild Land Fire Management also sent a helicopter and an air tanker to a fire spotted about 30 kilometres from Atlin on Thursday, to assist BC’s crews.

The fire was put out.

To get more information, follow Yukon Wildland Fire Management on Twitter at www.twitter.com/YukonWildFire, and get twitter updates on your cellphone by texting YukonWildFire to 21212.

Contact Genesee Keevil at

gkeevil@yukon-news.com