The board chair of the Bulkley-Nechako region has had a long week and expects the next one will not be any better, as more evacuation orders and alerts are in effect for an area of north-central British Columbia nearly surrounded by forest fires.“I’ve had better weeks,” said Bill Miller in a phone interview from Burns Lake, B.C., a community 1,000 kilometres northeast of Vancouver.The 35-kilometre stretch of land under evacuation order is west of the community of Fort St. James, in a mostly rural area, while an expanded evacuation alert includes several properties near the district municipality’s western edge.Miller said they have been lucky with the most recent evacuation area expansion, as no properties or families in the area have been forced out in a zone mostly made up of camping and recreational sites.However, he said if the fires continue to burn eastward, it will begin to affect residents in Fort St. James, and they need to be prepared to leave immediately if the alert is upgraded to an order in the next three to five days.“The alert has expanded significantly to cover the community of Fort St. James and some other First Nations communities as well,” said Miller.The wildfire burning near Shovel Lake that prompted the evacuation orders has grown to roughly 300 square kilometres and is one of the largest in the province, though Fire Information Officer Marg Drysdale of the BC Wildfire Service said the 2017 fire season had some much larger blazes.“We had fires last season which were well over 100,000 hectares (1,000 square kilometres),” said Drysdale from the scene of the fire.Drysdale is part of an incident management team dealing with several fires in the area she called the VanJam complex due to its proximity to the town of Vanderhoof and Fort St. James.She said they have 73 firefighters and 53 pieces of heavy equipment, including bulldozers and water tankers, split into two flanks to keep the fire from spreading toward the communities.She added the lack of rain and continual hot, dry weather with gusting winds have challenged crews, though the fire did not grow overnight.“It’s a bad fire season, there’s really no other way to put it,” she said.She said two other incident management teams from Australia and New Zealand were also working in the area, supporting the BC Wildfire Service crews.BC Wildfire Service chief information officer Kevin Skrepnek said there were nearly 600 blazes burning across the province, though the southern portion of the province did receive some rain over the weekend.The northern part of the province was not so lucky.“Unfortunately, we are not seeing a lot of relief in sight from the weather,” Skrepnek said.Miller said he expects residents and communities living along the Cunningham forest service road to evacuate the area if access along the road is cut off or restricted.He said when he left work in Burns Lake on Saturday afternoon, the smoke from the fires had darkened the skies so much that it seemed as if the sun had already set.
New Delhi: Umpire Sundaram Ravi, whose no ball howler cost Royal Challengers Bangalore heavily in an IPL match and led to an angry outburst by RCB skipper Virat Kohli, is unlikely to be sanctioned due to lack of officials with international experience on the BCCI roster. Currently there are only 11 Indian Umpires allotted for on-field and TV duty for 56 IPL games, which means Ravi might get negative marking from the match referee but BCCI can hardly take any corrective measures beyond that. Also Read – Puducherry on top after 8-wkt win over Chandigarh “Currently we have only 17 umpires assigned on-field and for third umpires’ duty. Out of them 11 are Indian and six foreigners from the Elite Panel. Apart from them, we have six more Indians as fourth umpires,” a member of the now defunct Umpiring sub-committee, who is privy to allocation of assignments, told PTI on Friday. Ravi, the only Indian in the ICC’s Elite Panel, failed to spot an obvious no ball from Mumbai Indians’ Lasith Malinga as RCB lost by six runs under controversial circumstances. Also Read – Vijender’s next fight on Nov 22, opponent to be announced later A livid RCB captain Virat Kohli said that “umpires should have kept their eyes open” while his India team deputy Rohit Sharma was also critical of the other on-field umpire C Nandan. Ironically, Nandan was adjudged best Indian umpire in the BCCI awards two years ago. There is speculation in the BCCI that Ravi and Nandan may not be used in the play-off games of IPL but it’s a very preliminary thought since overseas umpires like Marais Erasmus, Chris Gaffaney are around. The BCCI brass, along with the Committee of Administrators (COA), has long been worried about the declining standard of Indian Umpires but has not been able to come up with a feasible solution. “Even in those 11, we have only five who are assigned international matches. Apart from Ravi, we have Nandan, Shamshuddin, Anil Chaudhary and Nitin Menon, who are in ICC’s international panel. The other six are currently officiating in domestic games,” he said. “Match referee Manu Nayar has no option but to mention the errors by Ravi and Nandan in his report but you can’t just off-load Ravi. Let’s accept, the replacements will be worse. So penalising him is out of question,” he added. One of the core issues that BCCI has been unable to address is the qualifying structure through which umpires are coming up the ranks. As per data accessed by PTI, there were about 114 umpires who had officiated in around 2000 BCCI games of all age groups (Men and Women). This year’s Ranji Trophy had been marred by umpiring howlers and fatigue was a reason cited by many for the bloopers. The most notable was Cheteshwar Pujara being ruled not out during the Ranji Trophy semi-final between Saurashtra and Karanataka. R Vinay Kumar had induced a big nick that the umpire couldn’t hear and the India international scored a hundred which proved decisive. The number is very less and more so because those appearing for BCCI’s Level 1, 2 or 3 umpiring Test have been found to be well below par. “We have the National Academy of Umpires (NAU) in Nagpur. To procure a form and get enrolled there, you need a recommendation from local state association. The system itself is flawed,” a retired former first-class umpire, who didn’t wish to come on record, said. It has been learnt that BCCI also intends to clamp down on some umpiring academies, where candidates are allegedly prepared for the BCCI level tests, which gives them direct advantage over other meritorious candidates.
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