Recovery efforts from the deadly heat wave continue in British Columbia, with the B.C. Wildfire service hoping the arrival of out-of-province crews and support will help. As of Monday morning, there are currently over 190 wildfires burning.
Calm winds over the next few days could help slow the spread of the fires, but strengthening winds aloft will support thunderstorm development on Monday, which could ignite additional wildfires from lightning strikes.
Bill Blair, the federal minister of of public safety and emergency preparedness, said that the Canadian Armed Forces will be providing air support for impacted areas until July 19.
FIRE DANGER REMAINS VERY HIGH ACROSS B.C.
The extreme heat and dry conditions have made for elevated wildfire dangers over the past week across Western Canada, with several wildfires burning aside from the blaze that consumed Lytton, B.C., last Wednesday.
The BC Coroners Service confirmed two people perished in the blaze in Lytton. However, this number could escalate as officials said that some people are still unaccounted for, mostly due to the quick evacuation of the village.
Natural Resources Canada expects very high fire danger to persist across much of Interior British Columbia on Monday, with a few areas even reaching extreme fire danger criteria.
Visible satellite imagery shows wildfire smoke covering parts of British Columbia and Washington on July 3, 2021. Image from NOAA/STAR.
Multiple evacuation orders and alerts are in effect for parts of the Interior. Open burning and campfires both remain prohibited across the province to prevent further wildfires from sparking and spreading.
Widespread smoke from the out-of-control fires will lead to poor air quality across Interior B.C. Calm winds over the next couple of days will allow the smoke to linger in communities near the fires. Meanwhile, strengthening winds aloft will support the development of thunderstorms on Monday.
"We'll get some helpful rain with these storms, but also the threat for detrimental lightning across southern B.C.," says Kevin MacKay, a meteorologist at The Weather Network.
Lightning strikes from these storms could set off new blazes. An almost identical thunderstorm risk likely persists into Tuesday and Wednesday as well.
According to the wildfire service, 56 percent of the current fires were human-caused, with 31 percent of them caused by lightning.
Thick smoke can lead to health issues for those who have respiratory issues such as asthma. Those at risk are urged to limit time spent outdoors when the air quality is poor, and wear a tight-fitting, high-quality mask while outside to prevent the fine particulates in the smoke from entering your lungs.
The unprecedented heat that roasted the province earlier in the week dried out vegetation across the region, allowing small fires to grow into raging infernos with little notice.
The historic heat wave that built over Western Canada and the northwestern United States was the result of an intense ridge of high pressure that covered the region for more than a week.
Clear skies, bright sunshine, and sinking air beneath the ridge sent temperatures soaring to unparalleled levels.
Lytton, B.C., more than 90 per cent of which was razed by a wildfire on Wednesday, set Canada’s all-time high temperature record three days in a row last week. The streak culminated with a sweltering daytime high of 49.6°C on June 29, surpassing the old national record of 45°C by nearly 5°C, which stood for more than 80 years.
Thumbnail is of the Sparks Lake fire, courtesy of BC Wildfire Service.