Lightning, heat ignite wildfire season in B.C.; 119 blazes burning

Wildfire burning in Kamloops on July 2, 2021. (Kelsey Abraham/Contributed to Black Press Media)Wildfire burning in Kamloops on July 2, 2021. (Kelsey Abraham/Contributed to Black Press Media)

B.C. wildfire season is in high-gear, being fuelled by hot temperatures and lightning.

As of Friday morning, 119 wildfires are burning in the province, predominately in the Cariboo, Prince George and Kamloops regions.

About 40 per cent of the fires are in the early stages of assessment, classified as new, with 30 per cent deemed out of control.

Roughly 10 per cent are under control by BC Wildfire crews.

Lightning sparked at least three fires in the Kamloops area in the past 24 hours. On Canada Day, Premier John Horgan told reporters that 29,000 lightning strikes had hit B.C. between Wednesday and Thursday.

Sixty-nine of the active wildfires have been confirmed to be caused by lightning, while 37 remain under investigation – including the devastating Lytton Creek blaze that destroyed 90 per cent of the Thompson-Nicola-area village.

Although temperatures have dipped from the extreme heat wave earlier this week, much of B.C. remains tinder dry, making for perfect fire fuel with the help of a spark.

British Columbians are being urged to be extremely vigilant and report any and all fire sightings to 1-800-663-5555 or (*5555 from a cell phone).

Key wildfires of note:

Lytton Creek

Estimated fire size: 6,400 hectares

Location: Lytton

Classified as: Out of control

Discovered: June 30

BC Wildfire crews are working on the north west flank to secure the community. Ground crews and air support continue to work on the incident. A crew focused on structure protection is watching the east flank near Highway 1. Evacuation orders impacting roughly 1,000 people remain in effect.

Roughly 44 firefighters are battling the blaze with three pieces of heavy equipment.

McKay Creek

Estimated fire size: 22,000 hectares

Location: 23 km north of Lillooet

Classified as: Out of Control

Discovered: June 29

Crews worked to extinguish the fire on the south side of the fire perimeter Thursday, progressing westward with hose lays. A large portion the West Pavilion road was also secured for emergency access.

A spot fire on the east side of the Fraser River advanced eastward Thursday evening as a result of elevated winds.

Friday’s goal is to establish control lines and develop contingency containment plans, BC Wildfire Service says, as well as contain the growth on the east side of the Fraser River by establishing fire guards with heavy equipment.

Eighty-seven firefighters are on scene, supported by nine helicopters and six pieces of heavy equipment.

ALSO READ: Evacuation order issued for Pavilion Lake area due to McKay Creek fire

Sparks Lake

Estimated fire size: 20,000 hectares

Location: 15 km north of Kamloops Lake

Classified as: Out of Control

Discovered: June 28

BC Wildfire Service says the weather to date has been unprecedented with temperatures hitting the mid-40s, making smoke very visible from nearby communities. Crews working to establish control lines and burn out where able.

Roughly 163 homes are under an evacuation order, with 298 properties on alert.

Ninety-three firefighters are responding to this fire, backed by 13 helicopters and 16 pieces of heavy equipment.

Mary Creek

Estimated fire size: 15 hectares

Location: 8 km southwest of Castlegar

Classified as: Out of Control (0% contained)

Discovered: July 1

An evacuation order has been implemented for 31 properties as the fire burns near the south side of town.

The billows of smoke are much smaller than they were yesterday and there were no new evacuation orders overnight.

DAY 2: Castlegar wildfire still burning at 15 hectares

George Road

Estimated fire size: 350 hectares

Location: 7 km south of Lytton

Classified as: Out of Control

Discovered: June 16

Suspected to be human-caused, this fire is being met with increased fire activity, making it inoperable for fire crews due to the weather in the area.

Nine firefighters are tending this blaze, with one helicopter.

Beatton River

Estimated fire size: 3,4000 hectares

Location:

Classified as: Out of Control

Discovered: June 28

Very little information has been given at this time, but the fire is believed to be caused by lightning located east of Pink Mountain near Prince George. The fire is not burning near any structures or communities.

Deka Lake

Estimated fire size: 70 hectares

Location: Southwest of Deka Lake

Classified as: Active

Discovered: June 30

A small fire compared to others in the province, but burning close to many homes. As of Thursday, 679 properties are under an evacuation order.

Roughly 48 firefighters with one helicopter and one piece of heavy equipment are fighting the aggressive blaze.

READ MORE: Deka Lake evacuees hoping their homes are saved

G80997 (Pink Mountain Wildfire)

Estimated fire size: 6,000 hectares

Location: North of Buckinghorse River, adjacent to Highway 97 North

Classified as: Out of Control

Discovered: June 28

Also burning in the Pink Mountain Area, some good news has been seen on this fire with the Peace River Regional District downgrading evacuation orders in the area to alerts.

G91020 (Alaska Highway fire)

Estimated fire size:2,856 hectares

Location: Alaska Highway

Classified as: Out of Control

Discovered: June 29

Discovered June 29, and roughly 2,200 hectares in size, this fire along the Alaska Highway is believed to be caused by lightning and considered out of control. No further details are available about the wildfire, but drivers should expect delays due to road closures along Highway 97N between Sikanni Chief Road and Prophet River Sub Road for 59.3 kilometres.


@ashwadhwani
ashley.wadhwani@bpdigital.ca

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B.C. Wildfires 2021bcwildfireCaribooLyttonWildfire season

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