National News

Poor air, new evacuation alert near wildfires

By The Canadian Press

VANCOUVER - Rain and cooler weather can't come soon enough for beleaguered crews battling wildfires around British Columbia.

An evacuation alert was issued late Tuesday by the Regional District of Bulkley-Nechako as the uncontained China Nose fire flared, 15 kilometres south of Houston in northwestern B.C.

The alert covers a remote stretch of backcountry and there's no indication that any structures are threatened, but the Wildfire Management Branch says the steep terrain and aggressive activity of the lightning-caused blaze make it unsafe for crews to actively work its flanks.

The China Nose fire is among several that broke out Monday, including one west of Bull Canyon near Alexis Creek in the Cariboo region, that has forced sporadic closures of Highway 20, the only road leading to the central coast community of Bella Coola.

Hot dry weather remains in the forecast across northwest and north-central B-C, fuelling the fire risk, while crews hope several days of rain expected for the Cariboo, Okanagan and south coast will ease parched conditions there, although lightning is also linked to that system.

An air quality statement posted Tuesday for Greater Vancouver and the Fraser Valley has been lifted, but remains in effect for most of the southern Interior and Prince George, as smoke from huge wildfires in Washington State and central B.C., could cause breathing problems for the very young, the very old and the chronically ill.

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