Anahim Lake west of Williams Lake is on evacuation alert due to wildfires. (Angie Mindus photo)

Ulkatcho First Nation at Anahim Lake praying for rain

Fire danger extreme as nearby fires challenge firefighters and close highways

  • Jul. 14, 2021 12:00 a.m.

Newly elected Ulkatcho First Nation Chief (UFN) Lynda Price is praying for rain. Around a dozen vulnerable community members boarded a military helicopter Wednesday afternoon for safer ground as nearby wildfires closed access to the area.

“Think about all the wildlife out there and all the things that are dear to our heart that are burning,” Price said at an online community meeting Jul4 14.

“I pray to God for rain.”

Read More: Military helicopter en route to Ulkatcho First Nation to transport some residents out

Anticipated rain in the forecast later this week would be a blessing, Price said.

The Anahim Lake area remains on evacuation alert, and vehicle access out of the community both east and west has been blocked by wildfires.

A wildfire north of Big Stick Lake saw aggressive wildfire behaviour on July 14 fueled by wind gusts of 50 km/h the BC Wildfire Service (BCWS) said, noting ground personnel were forced away from the wildfire.

Highway 20 near Kleena Kleene has been closed in both directions due to the estimated 4,000-hectare fire, and an evacuation order for the Big Stick area is in place.

Read More: Update: Forest fires prompt closure of Highway 20 in two locations west of Tatla Lake

BCWS said the Hotnarko Creek fire meanwhile had experienced increased activity mainly on the northern flank, and firefighters would be working Wednesday to establish containment lines with heavy equipment.

The estimated 1,500-hectare blaze resulted in the closure of Highway 20 west of Ulkatcho and Anahim Lake, and an evacuation alert for the Anahim Lake area.

UFN band manager Brian Johnson said he has been closely working with Emergency Support Services (ESS) so the evacuated members would know what to do once they arrived at Williams Lake.

“We all know what happened at Lytton,” he said, encouraging everyone to pay close attention to the evacuation alert and be prepared to leave should it turn into an order.

“We don’t want it to happen here.”

Fire danger for the Anahim Lake area was listed July 14 at extreme, meaning forest fuels are extremely dry and new fires will start easily, spread rapidly and challenge suppression efforts.

Do you have a comment about this story? email: rebecca.dyok@wltribune.comLike us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter.

Williams Lake Tribune