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Weather could bring reprieve from wildfire smoke

Cold air from the Gulf of Alaska should lower temperatures closer to normal
15 Cutoff Creek wildfire
The Cutoff Creek wildfire southwest of Prince George remains the largest fire in the area.

The breathing could become a little easier by the start of the weekend as a dose of rain is forecast to sweep through the northern half of the province.

Some 10-15 millimetres is forecast to fall over Friday night, Environment Canada meteorologist Doug Lunquist said, which should help clear the air of wildfire smoke, although the pattern could pose a double-edged sword as thunderstorms are expected to be in the mix.

However, on balance, it should provide a "little bit of a reprieve and good news," said Lundquist, who attributed the pattern to cold air coming through from the Gulf of Alaska.

He said temperatures closer to the norms of 22 C for a high and 9 C for a low should continue through to next Wednesday.

The pattern will likely do little to help ease the trouble in the southern portion of the Cariboo where a mix of evacuation orders and alerts are in place from 100 Mile House down past Ashcroft.

"It's more bad news, where they don't get as much rain and it's more wind and more instability and more thundershowers," Lundquist said.

Postings on the B.C. Wildfire Service website Thursday afternoon are showing a handful of new fires erupting over the previous 24 hours, the closest to Prince George being a lightning-caused blaze just about 10 kilometres west of Purden Lake and on the south side of Highway 16.

First discovered on Thursday, it measured 0.2 hectares and was not a wildfire of note.

Two other new lightning-caused fires were found near Shesta Lake, west of Baldy Hughes, one measuring 11 hectares and the other 5.6 hectares. Another measured at 16 hectares is burning seven kilometres southwest of Punchaw Lake, also lightning caused.

Crews are continuing to deal with three wildfires of note southwest of Prince George, the largest being at Cutoff Creek. It measured 13,900 hectares as of Thursday afternoon, up from 12,000 on Wednesday and a evacuation orders and alerts remain in place for the surrounding area.

An evacuation order and alert also remain in place in relation to the Grizzly Lake wildfire to the east, which measured 2,800 hectares and was listed as out of control as of Wednesday night.

Further south, the Purdy Lake fire continued to burn and was estimated at 6,800 hectares as of Thursday morning.

The Camsell Lake fire south of Stuart Lake stood at just 310 hectares but an evacuation order remains in place and the Yekooche First Nation reserve has been evacuated, with several families now waiting it out in Prince George.