Rob Fraser didn’t sugarcoat the situation facing Fort Nelson, B.C., as forecasts called for westerly winds to pick up in northeastern B.C. Sunday night and turn into a wildfire of forest looming nearby into a disastrous threat.

Fraser, mayor of the Fort Nelson-based Regional Municipality of the Northern Rockies, said fire crews and rescue workers are preparing a “last stand” against the possibility of strong winds pushing the nearby Parker wildfire Lake directly in the town itself.

“This is exactly the worst-case scenario,” the mayor lamented of the projected winds, which are expected to increase to 20 mph before potentially producing gusts of up to 50 mph by Monday. “The fire is two or three kilometers away, and if we get winds from the west like we did on Friday – the day this fire started – it will be extremely difficult to stop it from spreading in the community. »

The Parker Lake fire, last measured at 41 square kilometers on Sunday afternoon, is one of several uncontrolled wildfires in Western Canada that threaten neighboring communities in provinces including Alberta and Manitoba .

Fires are burning near Fort McMurray and Grande Prairie, Alta., while Manitoba authorities have evacuated about 500 people from the community of Cranberry Portage, some 700 kilometers northwest of Winnipeg.

In British Columbia, about 3,500 people have already been evacuated from Fort Nelson after an order to leave was given Friday evening in light of the growing Parker Lake fire, and many residents have temporarily relocated hundreds of kilometers south to Fort St John or Prince George, British Columbia.

But Rob Fraser said Sunday that about 37 households in Fort Nelson itself and another 28 in the surrounding rural area had not complied with the order to evacuate, totaling between 100 and 150 people.

The Northern Rockies mayor urged those residents to leave immediately, warning that local resources such as water pressure and electricity could decrease or stop being distributed altogether to be reserved for public use, as a large Part of the supply will be intended to support firefighters trying to stop the wildfire.

“The situation is deteriorating and it is likely that as we install our sprinkler systems and structural protections around the community, the water pressure will decrease,” Fraser said.

“And we might even lose power. So they’ll stay at home thinking they can use their own sprinklers and electric pumps and things like that to get by on their own, and they’ll find that the resources they need are gone. »

A statement from the BC Wildfire Service says that while operational and command staff will remain at Fort Nelson “as long as it is safe to do so,” the municipality’s emergency operations center has left the city to a site Mr. Fraser as being about 150 miles south on the Alaska Highway.

“In order to ensure business continuity and an ongoing response to this evolving situation, support personnel from the BC Wildfire Service Incident Management Team and members of the local emergency operations center have departed from Fort Nelson », Indicates the press release.

The Northern Rockies Regional Municipality issued an update warning that wind “could actually increase the size of fires over the next 48 hours.”

“Please know that the decision to evacuate was not made lightly and is based on careful assessment and expert advice, with the safety of residents at the forefront,” the update said.

“At this time, all residents currently remaining in the community are strongly urged to reconsider their decision and evacuate immediately. You are our friends, our family and our neighbors. Please stay safe. »

Mayor Fraser said the smoke in Fort Nelson was very thick on Sunday and the air quality was poor, even in indoor spaces, and people’s eyes can become irritated as soon as they go outside.

With the Parker Lake Fire directly west of the community, Fraser said crews won’t be able to do much if strong westerly winds develop as expected.

“Just pray that the winds don’t come from the west,” he said. Maybe they go northwest, which would help push the fire south of the community, and that would really help us. But we are as ready as possible, with the help of the province, to fight one last battle. »

In Yukon, telecommunications services and 9-1-1 have largely been restored after being cut off by the Fort Nelson forest fire on Friday, government spokesperson Julia Duchesne announced.

A news release from the City of Yellowknife says disrupted services in the Northwest Territories have also been restored. Duchesne, however, warned of possible future disruptions in the Yukon as the fire situation in British Columbia worsens.

The Alaska Highway connecting Yukon to the rest of Canada also remains closed, and motorists are advised to consider alternatives such as the Stewart-Cassiar Highway.

In Manitoba, a provincial bulletin said Sunday that wildfires near Flin Flon, which forced the evacuation of Cranberry Portage, grew exponentially over the weekend, growing from 0.2 square kilometers on Thursday to 20 square kilometers on Friday, then swelling to its current size of 350 square kilometers.

“Approximately 500 residents are affected at this time, but this number could increase as conditions change,” warns the province’s statement regarding Cranberry Portage evacuees, adding that another wildfire is burning to the north from The Pas, Manitoba, threatening power lines.

The province added that the fires are being fueled by high winds and drought conditions, and nearby residents should be prepared to leave if the situation deteriorates.

The wildfire also damaged infrastructure in the area, which could disrupt telecommunications, road and rail connections near Flin Flon, the province said, noting that Highway 10 connecting the town to Cranberry Portage is already closed.

In Alberta, the Regional Municipality of Wood Buffalo maintained an alert for Fort McMurray residents to be ready to evacuate at short notice as the fire 16 kilometers to the southwest grew to 55 square kilometers.

“This wildfire expanded significantly to the southeast yesterday, driven by strong winds,” Alberta Wildfire said in an update. “Fire behavior is moderate this morning, but is expected to intensify today as temperatures rise. »

In Grande Prairie, the nearby fire occurred four kilometers east of the community and spanned an area of ​​14 square kilometers.

Wildfires in Western Canada have created poor air quality in a number of regions stretching from Manitoba to British Columbia, with Environment Canada reporting a “very high risk” – or level 10 – on Sunday or more – on air quality for Edmonton and Winnipeg.

The weather agency said other communities that suffered elevated air quality risks on Sunday include Fort St. John, British Columbia; Medicine Hat, Drayton Valley and Cold Lake in Alberta; and Swift Current, Saskatchewan.

Environment Canada has assessed that the very poor air quality is expected to improve in most places by Monday, with Edmonton and Calgary both falling to moderate risk according to the air quality health index.

Edmonton activated its response to poor air quality on Sunday, which sees the city opening municipal facilities, like recreation centers, to anyone needing respite from the smoke.

The CFL’s Edmonton Elks moved their scheduled practice indoors Sunday, but fan festivities outside Rogers Place Arena, where the Edmonton Oilers were scheduled to play Game 3 of their NHL playoff series against the Vancouver Canucks on Sunday night, were still underway.

“Obviously we continue to monitor the situation, and it’s really up to the fans. If they feel comfortable coming down, then we’ll welcome them,” said Kevin Rapanos of OEG Sports and Entertainment, acknowledging that stopping them might be difficult. “Our fans are super passionate, especially this time of year. »