Fire activity at the Maria Creek wildfire on Aug. 1. (Courtesy of BC Wildfire Service)

Fire activity at the Maria Creek wildfire on Aug. 1. (Courtesy of BC Wildfire Service)

B.C. wildfires: Blazes in southern regions continue to challenge crews

50 active fires burning across the province

There are 50 active fires burning in B.C. as of Wednesday (Aug. 10) morning, down five from the day before.

The majority of them are confined to the southern half of the province, a trend BC Wildfire Service says is normal for this part of the year as the north starts to see greater precipitation.

Specifically, 17 of the fires are in the southeast, 12 are in the Kamloops area, 10 are around Prince George, six are in the northwest, four are considered coastal, and one is in the Cariboo region.

The majority of the blazes (34) are believed to have been caused by lightning, while eight are attributed to people and the cause of the final eight remains unknown.

Thirteen fires are being held, 13 are considered out of control, and another 13 are under control. Three others are considered new, while eight remain labeled as “fires of note.” These are ones that are particularly visible or pose a potential threat to the public.

READ ALSO: 16 deaths recorded during B.C.’s July heat wave

They include:

Keremeos Creek

Estimated fire size: 6,836 hectares

Location: 21 kilometres southwest of Penticton

Discovered: July 29

Cause: Under investigation

Rainfall on Tuesday paused planned ignitions in the area, but BC Wildfire says it’s hoping to resume them when the weather clears. The ignitions are used to eliminate available fuel (brush, trees, etc.) between where the fire is burning and control lines or barriers crews don’t want it to go beyond.

BC Wildfire says new control lines are holding well. Burning debris continues to fall overnight, but crews are tackling it when it is safe to do so.

The Olalla Creek Forest Service Road is closed. Evacuation orders and alerts remain in place.

A total of 413 firefighters are fighting the blaze, with the assistance of 16 helicopters and 45 pieces of heavy equipment.

Maria Creek

Estimated fire size: 1,004 hectares

Location: 6 kilometres northeast of Pavilion

Discovered: July 31

Cause: Lightning

The wildfire hasn’t seen any growth outside existing perimeters since Aug. 3, but continues to be worked on closely by crews. They’ve used heavy equipment to gain access to the fire and are now building containment lines by connecting roads and cut blocks.

Incoming hot, dry weather could cause an increase in fire behaviour, according to BC Wildfire.

Fifty-nine firefighters are on scene, along with two helicopters and 6 pieces of heavy equipment.

Nohomin Creek

Estimated fire size: 3,745 hectares

Location: 1.7 kilometres northwest of Lytton

Discovered: July 14

Cause: Suspected human

Evacuation orders for the area have been rescinded, but fire activity continues in the Stein Valley Nlaka’pamux Heritage Park. Here, BC Wildfire says steep cliffs and rocky terrain have made it extremely difficult for crews to battle the blaze.

The fire’s south, northeast and east flanks remain stable.

It’s being co-managed by Lytton First Nation and BC Parks, with BC Wildfire Service providing support as needed.

Watching Creek

Estimated fire size: 270 hectares

Location: 16 kilometres northwest of Kamloops

Discovered: July 29

Cause: Suspected lightning

The wildfire, which hasn’t seen any significant growth since Aug. 2, is now considered as “being held.” It is not expected to spread beyond containment lines, and firefighters will work to extinguish what remains.

It will be removed as a fire of note in the coming days.

There are 78 firefighters on scene, along with four helicopters and two pieces of heavy equipment.

Briggs Creek

Estimated fire size: 1,679 hectares

Location: 11.5 kilometres west of Kaslo

Discovered: Aug. 1

Cause: Lightning

The fire hasn’t seen significant growth since Aug. 6 and continues to burn within containment lines.

BC Wildfire says as hot and dry conditions continue throughout August, however, some increases in fire activity are expected.

The fire is very visible to people in Kaslo, and may appear closer than it is to the town during evening hours.

Fourteen properties are under evacuation alert and BC Wildfire has issued an area restriction for the region.

There are 22 firefighters and one helicopter on scene.

Connell Ridge

Estimated fire size: 1,350 hectares

Location: 23 kilometres south of Cranbrook

Discovered: Aug. 1

Cause: Lightning

BC Wildfire says fire behaviour is increasing as temperatures rise and nearby communities are likely to experience smoke.

Crews finished constructing containment lines on Monday and are set to begin aerial planned ignitions on Wednesday at 11 a.m. This will be done with a heli-torch, an attachment suspended from a helicopter and used to ignite fuels in predetermined areas.

An evacuation alert is in effect for six properties in the area, as is an area restriction.

There are 109 firefighters on scene, along with 11 helicopters and 29 pieces of heavy equipment.

Cummings Creek

Estimated fire size: 52 hectares

Location: 5 kilometres west of Sparwood

Discovered: Aug. 3

Cause: Lightning

The wildfire grew another eight hectares Tuesday, as crews continue to see aggressive activity on the fire’s eastern flank.

The difficult landscape and resulting smoke have made it largely unsafe for ground or air crews to work so far, according to BC Wildfire.

Residents of Sparwood will likely see an influx of firefighting equipment this week, as structure protection personnel begin assessing properties in the area. BC Wildfire says this is being done proactively, and that Sparwood is not under immediate threat.

There are 40 firefighters on scene.

Weasel Creek

Estimated fire size: 648 hectares

Location: 2 kilometres west of Frozen Lake and 39 kilometres southeast of Baynes Lake

Discovered: Aug. 4

Cause: Lightning

The fire, which spread from the United States into the Flathead Valley in B.C. on Aug. 4, grew larger over Tuesday. On the Canadian side of the border, it increased from 526 to 648 hectares. The overall size is 1,241 hectares.

A structure protection specialist is assessing the area and determining if any resources are needed.


@janeskrypnek
jane.skrypnek@blackpress.ca

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