100 MILE HOUSE (NEWS 1130) – Extreme weather conditions are expected throughout the province this Labour Day long weekend, further fueling what has already been a record BC wildfire season.
There are currently 164 active fires, including 12 new fire starts Friday, across the province.
According to the BC Wildfire Service, there are a number of wildfires of concern, including the Elephant Hill fire near Ashcroft.
“[It] is currently estimated to be 186,800 hectares in size. There is a wind event anticipated today so we’re expecting strong gusts by the afternoon which will likely lead to extreme fire weather on that fire,” says Fire Information Officer Ryan Turcott.
He says there could be some relief for parts of the province, but not for all affected areas.
“We may see a band of showers along the stretch of central BC, just above the Cariboo Fire Centre, but the north and the south very much expected to remain dry. They will likely see less than a milimeter of precipitation over the next five days.”
The BC Wildfire Service is urging people to stay out of the backcountry in the Cariboo, Kamloops, and southeast fire centres because of hot, dry conditions.
Meanwhile, at least two evacuation orders in the Interior have been expanded because of the threat of wildfires.
One of those orders is southeast of 100 Mile House between Sheridan and Watch Lakes.
An area northeast of 100 Mile House has also been put on evacuation order while the surrounding area remains on alert.
In the East Kootenay, there’s an evacuation order for 174 properties in the Moyie and Munroe Lake area who have been on alert since Wednesday.
A wildfire that started in Washington state on July 23 is now burning in BC. The Diamond Creek fire crossed the border into Canada on August 30, between Cathedral Provincial Park and Manning Provincial Park. Due to public safety concerns, BC Parks has closed Cathedral Provincial Park. The fire is estimated to be 2,030 hectares in size on Canadian land and is burning in the backcountry near Border Lake.
If you’re going camping, you’re being warned to stay out of the backcountry in the Cariboo.
BC’s state of emergency has been extended until September 15th.
— BC Wildfire Service (@BCGovFireInfo) September 2, 2017
Seasonal BC Wildfire Service members head home
For many of us, the Labour Day long weekend usually signals the unofficial end of summer, but that’s not exactly the case for the BC Wildfire Service.
The Service estimates about 30 to 40 per cent of its members will leave the fire lines behind –many to go back to school– with contracts up at the end of August.
However, Turcot says there is a plan in place to replace them.
“We are continuously bringing in additional assistance from the forest industry, other provinces, the Canadian Armed Forces, local fire departments, and other countries to ensure that we do maintain that capacity to continue managing the wildfire situation throughout BC,” he says.
Though the service is looking to more help from out of province, Turcot adds this isn’t anything that comes as too much of a surprise.
“This drop in personnel come September is something that happens every year, and we do have ways to plan around it to maintain staffing levels moving into September because certainly this is going to be a wildfire season that continues on for some time yet.”
Wildfire smoke could hit Lower Mainland
You may notice a hazy sky over the next few days. Environment Canada believes wildfire smoke could blow back into the Lower Mainland.
It’s not expected to happen until Sunday at the earliest.
Meanwhile, a special weather statement continues for Metro Vancouver and the Fraser Valley because of potentially record-setting temperatures in the forecast. Temperatures are expected to head into the 30s, and even get as high was 35 on Tuesday.