More wildfires blaze in B.C., but no communities seriously threatened | iNFOnews | Thompson-Okanagan's News Source

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More wildfires blaze in B.C., but no communities seriously threatened

The Snowy Mountain fire in the Similkameen area is pictured in this photo submitted by the B.C. Wildfire Service, Thursday, Aug. 2, 2018.
Image Credit: SUBMITTED/B.C. Wildfire Service
August 02, 2018 - 2:30 PM

KAMLOOPS, B.C. - British Columbia's Wildfire Service has had its busiest few days of the season after thousands of lightning strikes sparked hundreds of new fires, but officials say they are relieved that no communities were under threat on Thursday.

"Given the level of fires, things are looking fairly good," said Wildfire Service spokesman Kevin Skrepnek.

The agency counted 170 new fires Wednesday on top of 130 tallied a day earlier. Environment and Climate Change Canada said on Twitter that more than 30,000 lightning strikes were recorded Wednesday.

"It's been the busiest period so far this year," said Skrepnek, adding that some fires may not have been detected yet from lightning that has already passed through.

Two fires of concern were burning in southern B.C. in the Princeton and Keremeos areas.

A 23-square-kilometre fire forced the evacuation of the Cathedral Lake Lodge in Cathedral Provincial Park, while flames from the other blaze were visible from Keremeos and Cawston, where more than 900 properties were placed on evacuation alert Tuesday. That fire covered 65-square-kilometres, making it the largest burning in the province but the Wildfire Service said strong overnight winds pushed flames away from homes.

In southeastern B.C., a small but aggressive fire closed part of Highway 93 through Kootenay National Park and the B.C. government's online service for travellers was not estimating when the route might reopen.

The fire was one of several near the Alberta boundary that caused the evacuation of Kootenay Park Lodge and closure of some trails and campsites in Kootenay and Banff national parks.

Skrepnek expects unstable weather, including lightning and wind to continue for several more days, but he said the question is how much rain will arrive with each storm.

"We are certainly going to see rain in the province, but where it is going to fall, how much we are going to see, and how long it is going to linger, is up in the air right now."

There have been 1,265 wildfires in B.C. since April 1, charring 780 square kilometres of woodland, but that is well below the average of 1,200 square kilometres that would be expected by this time of year, said Skrepnek, crediting quick action by wildfire crews and a wet June for the lower damage figures.

— By Beth Leighton in Vancouver

News from © The Canadian Press, 2018
The Canadian Press

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