What you need to know about B.C. wildfires for Aug. 21

·2 min read
A firefighter works near the Garrison Lake wildfire near Princeton, B.C., on Aug. 20, 2021 (B.C. Wildfire Service - image credit)
A firefighter works near the Garrison Lake wildfire near Princeton, B.C., on Aug. 20, 2021 (B.C. Wildfire Service - image credit)

The latest on the wildfires:

  • 249 wildfires are active across B.C., an increase of five in the last two days.

  • 8,582 square kilometres have burned so far this year, as B.C. sees its third-worst season on record.

  • There are still 75 evacuation orders affecting nearly 5,000 properties.

  • 1,175 properties saw their evacuation orders lifted as weather conditions improved and temperatures cooled Friday.

Improved conditions led authorities to lift a number of evacuation orders on Friday, including for parts of the largely destroyed village of Lytton. But many still remain under alert in case the situation worsens again.

With more than a month of summer left to go, this year is already the third most destructive wildfire season recorded in B.C. in terms of area burned, with more than 8,582 square kilometres scorched as of Friday evening.

A stabilizing situation, thanks to cooler and wetter weather, allowed more than 1,000 properties to be taken off evacuation order throughout the province on Friday, with evacuation alerts rescinded for nearly 200.

Friday afternoon's downgraded orders included large parts of the village of Lytton, which was mostly destroyed by fire on June 30. Orders were downgraded as well for some residents impacted by the Tremont Creek Wildfire near Logan Lake, areas of the Lower Nicola northwest of Merritt, and Pete Martin Bay and Queest Village areas.

But near the Mt. Hayes fire northwest of Ladysmith, new evacuation alerts were issued by regional authorities on Friday afternoon for several local roads.

"It's moving away from structures in the area and it's also moving southwest, which is away from Ladysmith," said Donna MacPherson, a fire information officer with B.C.'s wildfire service.

For now, the wildfire service lists the current wildfire danger as moderate across most of the Kamloops Fire Centre, which is home to some of the most concerning fires in the province.

One of them, the White Rock Lake fire, still burns across more than 811 square kilometres of land.

This year's total burned area represents a 140 per cent increase above the past decade's wildfire season average in terms of area scorched.

Taylor Coleman with the wildfire service said rain is expected to hit the eastern, southern, and northern parts of the province, which will free up firefighters to help out with the situation in the Interior.

"We're hoping the conditions this weekend will bring a bit of reprieve and we'll be able to directly attack those wildfires and make some good gains," she said Friday.

Anyone placed under an evacuation order should leave the area immediately.

Evacuation centres have been set up throughout the province to assist anyone evacuating from a community under threat from a wildfire. To find the centre closest to you, visit the Emergency Management B.C. website.

Evacuees are encouraged to register with Emergency Support Services online, whether or not they access services at an evacuation centre.

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