Biggest wildfires in British Columbia largely stable overnight, but officials urge caution

Authorities are urging British Columbians to be aware of the wildfire risk, even as the province’s largest blazes held steady overnight.

The most disturbing fire in the province remains the Keremeos Creek fire21 kilometers southwest of Penticton in the Southern Interior.

It resulted in the construction of 25 properties evacuation order and more than 350 properties for sale evacuation alert In the region. The ‘erratic’ blaze jumped from a road on Friday night and then nearly tripled in size on Saturday.

However, on Sunday the BC Wildfire Service said that minimal growth was observed overnight. The fire is located near Penticton, 63 kilometers south of Kelowna.

The Okanagan-Similkameen Regional District has issued a series of alerts and evacuation orders related to the Keremeos Creek Fire southwest of Penticton. (Okanagan-Similkameen Regional District)

“Right now there is a bit of an inversion which is keeping the smoke quite low in the valley which is preventing some of our air assets from operating safely in the line of fire,” said Aydan Coray, a fire information officer, Sunday morning. .

« Once this sort of inversion breaks and we have a bit more visibility down the valley, we will have additional helicopters joining throughout the day. »

More than 40 firefighters are working on the blaze, which started on Friday. Coray said high temperatures will continue to challenge firefighters on Sunday, although a gradual cooling trend is expected to begin early next week.

She said it was difficult to predict which direction the fire might develop on Sunday.

Evacuation alerts issued by the Okanagan-Similkameen Regional District are for the nearby ski resort of Apex Mountain, located northwest of the fire.

James Shalman, the station’s general manager, said people at the facility were « optimistic » about the behavior of the fires on Sunday, and that windy conditions mean smoke is not yet visible from the station.

He said the station has a wildfire plan that has been in place for more than 30 years and involves the use of snowmobiles to quell the blaze.

“We are one of the few mountains that make snow from top of the mountain to bottom of the mountain and on various runs,” he said. « What we do is place our snow cannons in strategic areas that could potentially help us if fire comes at us, that’s another line of defence. »

A blower blows mist onto a small wooden structure, with a model bear next to it.
A snow cannon blows water at a structure near Apex Mountain Station on Sunday as the resort prepares for the possible arrival of the nearby Keremeos Creek Fire. (Tom Popyk/CBC)

He said around four members of staff were working to get everything in place, with the resort ready to « flip a switch » if needed.

« Forest fires… are a threat and they are a danger, » he said. « It’s always a priority. And we’re always a little nervous and always grateful when we spend the summer without anyone. »

No campfire ban in place

The Nohomin Creek Wildfire, about 1.7 kilometers northwest of Lytton, B.C., grew Saturday in high-altitude areas due to hot, dry conditions.

The Forest Fire Department said helicopters regularly ripped through the blaze during the day, while rocky slopes and scarce fuels slowed its growth in some areas.

Donna MacPherson, fire information officer, said the department has the right resources to fight fires in the province.

Despite a slight increase in fire outbreaks after a week of extreme temperaturesMacPherson said the province is in much better shape than last year.

« We have about 440 [total] fires in the province – that’s about half of our 10-year average,” she said. “It’s much less than last year, which was almost 1,278 at the same time. [as] This year. »

Despite the favorable comparison to last year’s devastating season, MacPherson urged people in the backcountry to be cautious.

No campfire ban is in place in the province, although large open fires are prohibited. A small campfire means keeping fires within half a meter high and wide, and keeping water or a tool nearby to keep them under control.

« Right now we allow those types of fires, but they’re very small, controlled campfires. I wouldn’t be surprised if that changes…however, » MacPherson said. « Because we’ve had this spell of very hot and dry weather, we’re anticipating that we could put some in next week. »


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