B.C. Wildfire Service says fire activity plateaued in the last week, but risk of dry lightning in forecast

·2 min read
The Weasel Creek wildfire burning on the Canada-U.S. border, seen on July 30. The fire is currently burning over 8.8 square kilometres west of Frozen Lake, B.C.. It is one of B.C.'s seven 'fires of note'. (B.C. Wildfire Service/Twitter - image credit)
The Weasel Creek wildfire burning on the Canada-U.S. border, seen on July 30. The fire is currently burning over 8.8 square kilometres west of Frozen Lake, B.C.. It is one of B.C.'s seven 'fires of note'. (B.C. Wildfire Service/Twitter - image credit)

B.C.'s biggest wildfires did not grow significantly overnight, according to officials, but the wildfire risk in the province is expected to heighten at the start of next week.

As of 3 p.m. PT on Saturday, 540 fires were reported throughout the fire season. Ten per cent of them are currently burning actively, though many of those are under control by firefighters.

While those numbers are much lower than this time last year, numerous "wildfires of note" remain burning in the province. The biggest of those is the Keremeos Creek wildfire southwest of Penticton, B.C., in the southern Interior.

The blaze has resulted in over 200 homes being evacuated in the village of Olalla, and further evacuation orders for properties in the Apex Mountain area and remote regions of Keremeos.

 

The fire continues to burn over an area of 59 square kilometres, 21 kilometres from Penticton, which is south of Kelowna. More than 500 residents were forced out of their homes according to the regional district on Saturday, with over a thousand on evacuation alert.

"We are having winds come from the north," said Marg Drysdale, a fire information officer, on Saturday morning. "We do expect to see some smoky skies and people in the area will have some smoke that they will have to contend with today."

Drysdale said more than 400 firefighters were on scene on Saturday. One structure was confirmed destroyed by the fire, though Drysdale said no further structure losses have been reported yet.

"It is definitely an ongoing situation and we expect it will continue for some period of time," she said, adding that much of the future fire activity would depend on weather conditions.

Risk of dry lightning

Erika Berg, another fire information officer, said that rain and cooler temperatures had helped slow fire activity slightly over the past week, and the service did not anticipate many new starts going into Sunday.

However, she said temperatures are expected to climb after that, and dry lightning might be rolling through the Interior then.

"When that lightning does roll through ... we're anticipating that's coming in around mid-next week," she told CBC News. "There is that potential for new fire starts."

Tom Popyk/CBC
Tom Popyk/CBC

Nearly two-thirds of B.C.'s active fires are in the Kamloops and Southeast fire centres in the Interior, including all seven of B.C.'s "fires of note" — wildfires that are particularly visible or pose a threat to property.

Berg said people should remain cautious and heed fire prohibitions going into next week. Campfire bans are in place across all of southern B.C., with large open fires banned throughout the province. She also said people near fires should work to fireproof their homes if possible.

Drysdale also reminded residents near wildfire zones to drive slowly and carefully, saying those who are driving negligently posed a risk to crews and equipment.

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