Vancouver News

Evacuation order lifted for Hudson's Hope

By Dene Moore, The Canadian Press

VANCOUVER - The evacuation order for more than 1,100 residents of Hudson's Hope, B.C., was lifted Thursday, allowing residents chased out by a wildfire to return home.

Rain and cool weather dampened a raging wildfire that officials believed posed a danger to the community.

District spokeswoman Laurel Grimm said the imminent threat to Hudson's Hope has passed, and those who left their homes Wednesday could return. However, they must be ready to leave again at a moment's notice should the fire flare up again so close to the community.

Grimm said the danger is not over, but the 160-square-kilometre Mount McAllister blaze had been tempered by weather.

Residents were ordered out when the wildfire was burning so fiercely that B.C.'s Wildfire Management Branch wouldn't put crews on the ground to fight the blaze.

There's a forecast of thunderstorms in northeastern B.C., and officials say there is still a concern the storms could cause more fire trouble.

"Right now it's hard to say whether that thunder-shower activity will be associated with rain or not. So of course dry lightning is also a concern," said provincial fire information officer Navi Saini.

"Strong winds are expected in many areas of the province, especially in the northeastern sections of the province where we have these large fires. Strong winds will likely increase fire behaviour."

The fire is just a few kilometres away from four transmission lines running from two generating stations in Hudson's Hope.

The GM Shrum and Peace Canyon generating stations, on the Peace River, are responsible for 30 per cent of the province's power.

BC Hydro says 200 staff and contractors had to be evacuated from the facilities, but stations are now being operated remotely from the Lower Mainland.

BC Hydro spokeswoman Simi Heer insisted the province's power supply will not be impacted by the fire.

The company is keeping a close eye on the transmission lines being threatened and a back-up plan is in place in case the flames gets too close, Heer said.

"If we did need to de-energize or disable one of those transmission lines, we're easily able to switch load to one of our other high-voltage transmission lines coming out of the southeast," she said in a phone interview. "We do have large generation facilities on the Columbia River, and they're responsible for a lot of our generation for the province as well, so we can simply shift most of our load on those lines if needed."

There are about 140 wildfires burning in the province, but only about six of those have forced residents from their homes. The Hudson's Hope fire was by far the largest evacuation.

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