Lightning sparks new fires as thunderstorms add to danger in B.C.’s Interior

Lightning sparks new fires as thunderstorms add to danger in B.C.'s Interior
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The BC Wildfire Service says 212 wildfires are burning in British Columbia as lightning storms swept over several areas of the province.

The wildfire service website shows more than three dozen small fires have been sparked across all regions except the Coastal Fire Centre.

At least 24 are believed to have been caused by lightning, while the website says two are blamed on human activity and the cause of the rest is undetermined.

Environment Canada has said conditions are favourable for very strong winds, large hail and heavy rain in at least eight regions of the province.

Premier John Horgan addressed media just after 4 p.m. Tuesday, saying that the province has not yet declared a state of emergency because one is not yet needed to combat the wildfires.

“We have been, as you willk now, in a state of emergency for over 14 months as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic and we’re confident every resource that can be mustered is being mustered. A state of emergency isn’t required for that,” he said.

Public Safety Minister and Solicitor General Mike Farnworth said such a decisino is based on the advice of the BC Wildfire Service.

“I have every confidence when they say it’s time to put one in place we will put one in place,” said Farnworth.

A dangerous heat wave continues to bring sweltering temperatures and little nighttime cooling to several areas, including the Fraser Canyon and Thompson regions where several dangerous wildfires are burning.

Flames that destroyed most of the Fraser Canyon village of Lytton last week have charred 76 square kilometres of the bush, while the wildfire service says the blaze near Sparks Lake, north of Kamloops, has burned 392 square kilometres.

Evacuation orders covering hundreds of properties remain in place for both areas.

A total of 13 blazes that are either highly visible or pose a risk to humans and property are burning in the Cariboo, Kamloops and Prince George fire centres.

Air quality has also been affected by wildfire smoke and the weather office says those conditions will cover the northeastern corner of B.C. and most of central and southern Interior for the next 24 to 48 hours.

“Individuals may experience symptoms such as increased coughing, throat irritation, headaches or shortness of breath,” Environment Canada says in its latest air quality statement.

Children, seniors and those with heart or lung problems are especially at risk, the weather office says.

With files to the Canadian Press


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