BC wildfire status Saturday: Crews brace for potentially stormy weekend

As the sun sets on Wednesday a helicopter prepares to dump water on a blaze near Williams Lake

More than 16,000 people have been displaced by the more than 180 fires, prompting a province-wide state of emergency and a special air quality statement for B.C.'s interior.

About 680 blazes have consumed 1,110 square kilometres of grass, bush, forest and in some cases neighbourhoods since the fire season began in April, Skrepnek said.

More than 10,000 residents are now awaiting word from officials about whether they'll have to pack up and leave their homes. Instead, strong winds may even fuel the flames. About 1,800 families were expected to have received a $600 assistance package from the province by the end of Thursday, he added.

Crews from Metro Vancouver and Vancouver Island joined the more than 3,000 people battling the flames.

Hundreds are on edge after a new round of evacuation alerts and notices were issued in the Cariboo region.

An area restriction order has been issued for Williams Lake. After six days, a fresh crew of five firefighters will replace them.

At least 60 per cent of residents had already left town, he estimated, largely because of the smoke from the fires.

Crews are being commended for not allowing the fire to jump Highway 97.

Cobb said that the current weather outlook is better than initial predictions, which has helped avoid evacuation orders.

"We [staff, and Delta Fire Department] actually met in a tent at last weekend's Tour de Delta to decide how we were going to proceed, what was needed and who would go", said Mayor Lois Jackson.

A large swath of central British Columbia's backcountry has been closed for travel, camping and other recreational use in an effort to protect public safety and prevent any more forest fires.

Dozens of provincial parks, ecological reserves and protected areas have also been closed in the fire centre because of the wildfire hazard.

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