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4 homes lost due to wildfire near Fort Nelson, B.C.

A wildfire burns outside of Fort Nelson, B.C. in May, 2024. A wildfire burns outside of Fort Nelson, B.C. in May, 2024.

A wildfire burning near Fort Nelson, B.C., completely destroyed four homes and damaged another six properties, according to an update from the mayor of the Northern Rockies Regional Municipality.

Amid more favourable weather conditions on Saturday, the emergency operations centre was able to complete a structural damage assessment and contact property owners impacted by the Parker Lake wildfire.

Rob Fraser posted an update to Facebook Sunday, saying three of the homes were being lived in while one is not currently occupied. All four were close to where the fire first exploded in size on May 10.

“For those families I feel really, really bad,” he said. “I hope that we’re going to be able to do everything we can to help them get back to normal life as quickly as possible.”

The other six properties saw what Fraser referred to as “severe loss” but homes were not impacted. Shops, sheds, boats and vehicles were destroyed, however.

“It’s sad for them too,” Fraser said, those are possessions nobody wants to lose.”

Earlier this week the mayor confirmed there had been “some structural damage” outside of Fort Nelson, but did not say how many homes or properties were impacted. Fraser also urged people not to share photos or video of destroyed or damaged properties, saying it was “unconscionable” for people to learn of their losses through social media posts.

The official update on structural damage comes as plans for people to return to the community progress, including allowing some access for those who provide essential services.

The evacuation order remains in place, impacting roughly 4,700 people.

“Conditions in Fort Nelson have not been given the all clear at this time,” a Sunday morning update from the NRRM said.

Evacuees who need temporary access to do things like check on livestock, provide essential services or check on critical infrastructure ae being granted permits. But the NRRM says “misinformation” has led to a “significant surge” of these applications, delaying their processing.

Municipal officials say they understand people are concerned about the security of their homes and properties while the evacuation order is in effect but that a plan is in place to keep them safe and to keep residents informed.

“The RCMP has located a dedicated group of members to patrol and inspect both homes and businesses to confirm they have remained secure while the community has been unoccupied. Owners have been directly contacted where there have been any properties of concern,” the update says.

As of Sunday morning, the Parker lake wildfire was burning out of control and its size was estimated at roughly 123 square kilometres.

“Despite drought conditions posing problems in the area, favorable weather is anticipated including a forecast of some rain, providing a window for progress. Continuous monitoring of the fire is crucial to support the community re-entry process, with fire behavior not expecting any significant growth,” an update from the NRRM Saturday evening said. 

Fraser said an expected date on which everyone will be able to return has not and cannot be set, but that getting people safely back into the community is the top priority..

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