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Evacuation alert lifted for Hudson's Hope

The District of Hudson's Hope has lifted an evacuation alert in place since July 16, when a 10,000-plus-hectare wildfire menaced the town.

The District of Hudson's Hope has lifted an evacuation alert in place since July 16, when a 10,000-plus-hectare wildfire menaced the town.

In a release, Hudson's Hope announced the Wildfire Management Branch had deemed the Mount McAllister wildfire was no longer a threat to lives and property within the district. The alert required residents of Hudson's Hope to be ready to leave at a moment's notice.

The Peace River Regional District also rescinded several alerts and orders for rural areas near Hudson's Hope, including Moberly Lake. A state of local emergency for Electoral Area E expired Tuesday night.

Last Wednesday, the district upgraded the alert to an order, forcing more than 1,000 residents and hundreds of workers in the area to flee to Fort St. John. They spent nights in hotels, on couches and in campers before being given the all clear order the next day.

As of Monday afternoon, the Mount McAllister fire covered just shy of 16,000 hectares southwest of town. The Wildfire Management branch announced Tuesday that access to the area would still be somewhat restricted until the fire was extinguished.

Smoke health advisories moving in and out

Health advisories from Northern Health and the B.C. Ministry of Environment regarding wildfire smoke keep coming in and out. Such an advisory was issued for the region last Monday, but was rescinded not long after.

Then this past Friday, another, blanket health advisory was put into effect for all of northeastern B.C. It was supposed to last a couple of months, until the end of the fire season, or until weather changes permitted. But this Monday, three days later, that second advisory was rescinded as well.

"While there are still fires burning in the region, cool and damp weather conditions have resulted in a decrease in smoke production from the fires and there is no longer widespread smoke in the region," read the notice.

At the time that latter advisory was issued, Ralph Adams, air quality meteorologist for the B.C. Ministry of Environment, said that the air quality was changing so rapidly that it didn't make sense for them to issue individual advisories for different communities, and then rescind and reissue them as the air quality changed.

"As an example for how rapidly the conditions have been changing, last night the community of Quesnel, based on our monitor downtown, measured the highest one-hour smoke level that we have ever recorded in the interior of B.C." he said.

"It reached 385 micrograms per cubic meter. However, three hours later ... it was reading a value of 16, which would be considered a perfectly normal level for a summer day or night when there were no fires in the area."

In the same press conference call, Dr. Charl Badenhorst said he had been working in the emergency room at the Fort St. John Hospital last Thursday evening, and had personally seen people who were experiencing shortness of breath and wheezing, but added he wasn't certain it was directly related to the smoke.

He warned that anyone at high risk, such as those with asthma, lung disease, angina or anything that impacts their cardiovascular system, should take appropriate precautions, such as not overexerting themselves, and making sure their prescriptions are up to date and stocked.

"It'll be difficult to find physicians, especially in the Northeast where we have limited doctors available," he said.

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