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Canada Evacuation alert issued in Fort St. John, B.C., as nearby hillside continues to move

A slumping hillside that is threatening dozens of homes in northeastern British Columbia has prompted a further evacuation order just days after residents in the community of Old Fort were ordered to leave.

The latest order issued Thursday was for residents living on two islands in the Peace River just west of Old Fort.

A slowly moving landslide began more than 10 days ago and has gradually torn up the only road down to Old Fort, toppled power lines and forced the Peace River Regional District to order the evacuation of all 54 homes in the community.

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On Wednesday, the district issued an evacuation alert for a section of Fort St. John’s outskirts at the top of the hill overlooking Old Fort. It means residents there will need to prepare to leave at a moments notice.

A statement from the district says anyone who enters or refuses to leave the area under evacuation after 6 a.m. Friday could face imprisonment of up to one year or a fine of up to $10,000.

The district says in its latest evacuation order posted online that the decision was made because of immediate danger to life safety.

“The main slide has already impacted one of the islands and recent changes and new information regarding the west slide indicates potential for increased mobilization and depth of failure.”

A news release from the City of Fort St. John says the evacuation alert is precautionary and will allow city staff to effectively respond to the constantly changing event.

No homes are affected by the alert, which covers two sewage lagoons described by the city as “dormant and empty.”

B.C. Public Safety Minister Mike Farnworth flew over the landslide on Wednesday and called it a “very complex situation,” because the earth is still moving and cracks in the hills on either side of the slide continue to widen.

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