Officials move to ban campfires on coast as crews continue battling B.C. wildfires

·3 min read
The Keremeos Creek Wildfire as seen from the area of Yellow Creek, B.C., on Monday.  (David Brooks - image credit)
The Keremeos Creek Wildfire as seen from the area of Yellow Creek, B.C., on Monday. (David Brooks - image credit)

Authorities are poised to ban all campfires across the Coastal Fire Centre on Thursday, which includes the Lower Mainland, Vancouver Island, the Sea-to-Sky corridor and Sunshine Coast.

The announcement, which excludes Haida Gwaii, came Tuesday evening as wildfire fighters continue battling blazes across B.C. However, a shift to cooler weather is expected to bring some relief for crews.

B.C. Wildfire Service information officer Jean Strong said crews have been able to get the upper hand on most of the new fires thanks to preparations ahead of anticipated lightning strikes and hot weather last week, along with help from members of the public who've reported fires as they pop up.

"Although it's been a very active weekend and we've definitely seen quite a few new fires and some serious growth and behaviour on some of the bigger ones, we've also seen a lot of success," she said Tuesday.

The Keremeos, B.C. wildfire

 

According to Strong, there were nearly 4,000 lightning strikes across the province between Friday morning and Saturday afternoon, and those have been responsible for the majority of new fires.

The wildfire service's dashboard shows there have been 162 new fires across the province in the past seven days, but most of them are either out, under control or being held by firefighters.

Nearly half of those fires were sparked within the Kamloops Fire Centre region in the southern Interior. Of those, nine are still considered out of control.

"The rest of the week, we are expecting some good news and some weather to give our crews the upper hand on some of those bigger fires," Strong said.

That includes the Keremeos Creek wildfire, located about 21 kilometres to the southwest of Penticton.

That fire is now estimated at 27.9 square kilometres in size and has prompted evacuation orders for 324 properties so far. Another 438 properties are on evacuation alert.

 

The wildfire has destroyed one cabin, but no injuries have been reported. A total of 144 firefighters and nine helicopters are on scene fighting the blaze, along with some heavy equipment.

Strong said the fire has prompted periodic closures of Highway 3, and she said anyone travelling through the area should check DriveBC before hitting the road.

WATCH | Uncertainty, concern in Keremeos area as wildfire spreads:

Another significant wildfire in the Interior, the Nohomin Creek fire to the northwest of Lytton, is still growing slowly in steep, rocky terrain, Strong said. The latest estimate for its size is 37 square kilometres.

Strong said the wildfire service has had significant help on that fire from Lytton First Nation firefighters.

She encouraged people who spot new wildfires to report them through the B.C. Wildfire Service app, which allows users to upload photos of what they're seeing.

On Friday, members of the public made 13 reports of new fires with attached photos, according to Strong.

"Our operational teams were just thrilled. It really proved to be a useful tool," she said.

Also on Tuesday, the province announced that campfires will be banned within the Southeast Fire Centre region as of noon on Thursday. Fireworks, chimineas, tiki torches, burn barrels and sky lanterns will also be prohibited.

A previously announced campfire ban within the Kamloops Fire Centre region will also begin Thursday.

B.C. Wildfire Service
B.C. Wildfire Service
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