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City of 21,000 on evacuation alert due to B.C. wildfire

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An entire city in B.C.'s Peace region has been placed on evacuation alert due to the threat from a wildfire.

Residents of Fort St. John, a city with a population of roughly 21,000, have been advised to prepare for the possibility that they will have to flee their homes due to the danger posed by the Stoddart Creek Wildfire. The blaze -- which is suspected to be human-caused and sparked Saturday -- was estimated at 13,000 hectares Monday. 

"An evacuation alert has been issued to prepare you to evacuate your premises or property should it be found necessary. Residents will be given as much advance notice as possible prior to evacuation; however, you may receive limited notice due to changing conditions," the alert says.

The BC Wildfire Service explained, in social media posts, that the weather forecast is cause for significant concern.

A cold dry front is forecast to track southward this afternoon from Fort Nelson towards Fort St. John, causing winds to shift and increase. These strong winds could produce erratic, unpredictable fire behaviour. Increased smoke is also expected," the service said.

Evacuation orders were issued for Blueberry River First Nations and Doig River First Nation. A number of small communities have also been ordered to evacuate. Those are: Charlie Lake, Montney, Rose Prairie, North Pine, Coffee Creek, Buick Creek, Prespatou, Peejay, Nig Creek, Altona, Osborn, Murdale, and Pineview. 

A special weather statement is in effect throughout the region due to heat and an air quality advisory is in effect due to wildfire smoke.

Over the weekend, the Peace River Regional District declared a state of local emergency and issued evacuation orders for dozens of properties in the vicinity of the Stoddart Creek fire on Sunday.

The district also issued an evacuation order for the area around the Donnie Creek and Tommy Lakes wildfires, though it says the area is sparsely populated and mainly used by forestry and oil and gas workers.

With files from The Canadian Press.

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