LILLOOET (NEWS 1130) — The heatwave in recent days is being blamed for the spread of wildfires in B.C., including two out-of-control fires in the Interior.
The latest, the McKay Creek wildfire near Lillooet, was discovered Tuesday and spread quickly due to the hot and dry weather.
Firefighters have not been able to contain the blaze and the fire is classified as out-of-control. It is believed to be human-caused.
An evacuation order has been issued for several properties by the Squamish-Lillooet Regional District.
Properties in the West Pavilion road area were told to leave at a moment’s notice as the wildfire continues to spread towards their homes. No properties have been lost at this time.
Evacuees are being told to call Emergency Support Services Registration line at 1-888-800-6493 if they need assistance.
The #BCWildfire Service is responding to the McKay Creek wildfire (K71030) ~ 23 kms north of #Lillooet, along West Pavilion Road. 45 personnel are being supported by airtankers and 4 helicopters. The fire is classified as "Out of Control" and is estimated to be 3,700 hectares. pic.twitter.com/4vTQYYIobH
— BC Wildfire Service (@BCGovFireInfo) June 30, 2021
The McKay Creek fire is currently the largest in the province, with 5,000 hectares scorched by late Tuesday night despite efforts from the ground crews and air support including helicopters and air tankers.
Another blaze north of Kamloops has grown to about 2,300 hectares in size less than 24 hours later, it is also believed to be human-caused. The Sparks Lake wildfire broke out Monday north of Kamloops Lake and an evacuation order is now in place for more than 150 properties in the Deadman, Red Lake, Tranquille Valley, and Vidette Lake areas. Evacuees are urged to contact the Thompson-Nicola Regional District for more information.
Tuesday’s scorching temperatures caused the engines of multiple helicopters to overheat, according to BC Wildfire Service. The heat also wreaked havoc with the helicopter’s lifting capacity and limited the amount of water in the buckets at a time. Smoke is visible from Kamloops and nearby communities.
The George Road fire is burning near Lytton and is approximately 350 hectares in size. It was discovered June 16 and despite efforts by nine personnel and a helicopter the weather and challenging terrain have made it difficult to contain. The previous evacuations have been rescinded but air quality remains a concern for those in the area and fire conditions may change quickly. Another smaller fire was sparked Tuesday north of Lytton. The Conte Creek fire is human-caused and remains an estimated 1.5 hectares.
It comes as Lytton broke national records for the third straight day. The B.C. village experienced the hottest temperature ever recorded in Canada with a scorching 49.5 degrees Tuesday. Although Wednesday’s weather is milder, the smoke from the nearby wildfire now impacting air quality. Lytton’s Mayor Jan Polderman says most residents are remaining inside at this time.
“The air quality is decreasing and I would like to remind people that in the Interior the lack of rain, it’s extraordinarily dry,” the Mayor said as he urged everyone to be responsible with cigarettes and campfires.
Another fire in northeastern B.C. has caused highway delays south of Fort Nelson. Drivers planning to travel Highway 97 between Sikanni Chief Rd and Prophet River Sub Rd should prepare for long waits or detours. The Pink Mountain Wildfire was discovered Wednesday. Lightning is believed to be the cause and an evacuation alert has been issued.
Wednesday at noon a province-wide campfire ban took effect. No campfires are allowed anywhere in B.C. until Oct. 15, or until the order is rescinded by the province. A ban on Category 2 and Category 3 open fires are already in place.
With files from Monika Gul.