Recent rain, cooler weather means things looking up for Southern Interior wildfire crews | iNFOnews | Thompson-Okanagan's News Source

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Recent rain, cooler weather means things looking up for Southern Interior wildfire crews

The White Rock Lake wildfire burns west of Vernon, B.C., on Thursday, Aug. 12, 2021.
Image Credit: THE CANADIAN PRESS/Darryl Dyck
August 17, 2021 - 3:12 PM

With 25 to 40 millimetres of rain falling on in the Okanagan and Thompson regions recently firefighters are getting a chance to catch their breaths.

But they don’t expect the cooler temperatures and rain showers to necessarily be the end to what is one of the worst forest fire seasons in B.C. history.

“We’ve got a very favourable week ahead of us,” Todd Nessman, manager of fire operations for B.C. Wildfire Service said at a news conference today, Aug. 17. “We really had some good precipitation in some of the key areas that we needed it. That being said, we will start to see drying. Even with all this rain that’s gone on, we will start to see drying occur come tomorrow."

Conditions are not expected to return to the high 30 degree temperatures that have been seen for much of the summer and the cooler weather is expected to continue for at least the next six to 10 days, he said.

“That is good for our staff and will give us a chance to get a handle on some of the incidences and complexes that we’re dealing with,” Nessman said.

READ MORE: Emergency officials now say 70 structures damaged on west side of Okanagan Lake by White Rock Lake wildfire

So far this year, there have been more than 1,516 fires with about 825,000 hectares burned. There are 263 active fires still burning with 182 due to natural causes and 22 being human caused. More than 3,800 people are involved in fighting those fires.

There are currently 86 evacuation orders in place affecting 8,262 properties along with 125 evacuation alerts covering 22,729 properties.

People who are on alert should not only make a plan for getting out and staying with friends and family but should also post a note to that effect for RCMP officers who will be visiting their properties to inform them of the alert. That should include the fact that they have left and provide a contact number.

READ MORE: Evacuation alert for Kamloops rescinded

“That allows our officers, or whoever it is making that evacuation notification to that property, to know that they don’t have to go looking for those people,” RCMP spokesperson Staff Sgt. Janelle Shoihet said. “They can move on to the next property knowing full well your family and the people inside that home are safe.”

She noted that just because the RCMP office in Logan Lake has been evacuated to Merritt doesn’t mean there aren’t officers patrolling that and other areas under evacuation orders.

“To date we have not received any reports of criminality with respect to communities that are under order,” Shoihet said.

Tourists are being advised to avoid visiting areas that are affected by the fires but officials would not say if that includes staying away from places like Kelowna and Kamloops that are not under evacuation orders.

The Coquihalla Highway, also known as Highway 5, reopened today after a wildfire cut off the route between Hope and Merritt on Sunday.

However, Highway 1 remains closed because of a mudslide that washed over that route about 30 kilometres north of Lytton.

Drive BC, the province's online travel information service, says a geotechnical survey of the Highway 1 slide is planned, but there's no word when the highway could reopen and no confirmation of what caused the slide.

Highway 3, the other major artery between the Lower Mainland and the Interior, remains open, but it's shrouded by thick smoke from a fire burning between Hope and Princeton.

Forty firefighters and four supervisors arrived in B.C. from Yukon on Monday, raising the total number of out-of-province firefighters to more than 500, including crews from Australia, Mexico, the Prairies, and central and eastern Canada.

— With files from The Canadian Press


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