Few new wildfire starts in B.C., but crews watchful as heat wave approaches

Few new wildfire starts in B.C., but crews watchful as heat wave approaches
BC Wildfire Service

Wildfire activity in many areas of British Columbia remains aggressive, but the BC Wildfire Service is benefiting from a modest reprieve.

Its website shows just a handful of new spot fires were recorded in the last 24 hours after spokesman Rob Schweitzer said winds had been light.

The air mass over southern B.C. remains fairly stable, reducing the chance of lightning but the 3,650 firefighters and strategists currently battling hundreds of wildfires are keeping a close eye on weather around the province.

Environment Canada has issued heat warnings for most of the inner south coast and special weather statements for many other regions of the southern Interior.

Temperatures are due to reach the low- to mid-30s near the coast and the upper 30s inland, with only modest cooling at night and little relief until Sunday.

Schweitzer says high temperatures and low humidity mean “burning will increase” around some of the 248 wildfires currently listed as active in B.C., but he hopes it will not be significant.

Data from the Forests Ministry show just under 4,500 square kilometres have burned since the start of the fire season, with evacuation orders forcing residents of more than 3,375 properties to leave their homes.

Aggressive growth on the north and east flanks of a 179-square kilometre blaze northeast of Merritt led to more evacuations and alerts Tuesday, and the wildfire service said it was bracing for what it predicts will be “elevated fire activity” as early as Thursday.

A hot spell forecast for the rest of southern B.C. could bring thunderstorms, strong winds and dry lightning to the region, it said.

Evacuation alerts for the blaze extend as far north as the outskirts of Kamloops, but a social media message issued by the city Tuesday said staff are in regular contact with the wildfire service and the blaze was not a threat to the city.

This report by The Canadian Press was first published July 28, 2021.


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