An orange soup of smoke makes driving difficult on Highway 20 west of Williams Lake. (Scott Olesiuk photo)

Wildfires burn 111,000 hectares across B.C.

There have been 617 fires since April 1

There were 188 fires burning across B.C. on Thursday afternoon, up from 183 on Wednesday, according to the BC Wildfire Service.

“Generally [that has] been trending down from where we were over the weekend where there were north of 220 fires across the province,” Chief fire information officer Kevin Skrepnek. Wednesday saw 16 new fires spring up.

Since April 1, the province has spent $66.6 million fighting a total of 617 fires across 111,000 hectares. Annually, B.C. sets aside $63 million to fight wildfires but Skrepnek said that there is never a risk of the province stopping fighting fires just because the preset budget has been exceeded. The priority remains keeping highways that have, and continue to remain, evacuation routes clear and open.

RELATED: Interactive map paints B.C. wildfire picture

The province has 3,100 personnel on the fires, including B.C. firefighters, support workers and out-of-province firefighters, said Skrepnek. Between firefighters, experts and support staff, a total of 392 out-of-province personnel have been brought in. The crews are supported by over 178 aircraft, not counting the Canadian Forces resources.

There have been 230 recreation sites and trails closed in the Cariboo, Skrepnek noted.

“We are encouraging people to stay out of the backcountry,” he said. “The wildfire service is assessing the need to additional closures as a preventative measure.”

RELATED: Recreation sites now closed across Cariboo Fire Centre

There are 16,250 evacuees, said Emergency BC deputy minister Robert Turner. Of those, 9,429 have registered with reception areas and 4,655 are in emergency social services lodgings.

RELATED: Wildfire evacuees frustrated with Red Cross waits

“I know there has been a lot of frustration… there is now a zero wait time for those calling into the Canadian Red Cross to register,” said Turner. The online portal is now up and running.

“By the end of [Thursday], the Red Cross expects that 1,800 families will have received the $600 financial assistance packages being provided by the province through the Red Cross.”

twitter.com

BC Centre for Disease Control Dr. Sarah Henderson said that there has been an “easing of air quality across the province” but that “everyone is cognizant that these situations can change rapidly.”

Henderson said that the CDC is planning launch the BC Asthma prevention system to allow medical health officers to better predict upcoming air quality impacts and smoke concentrations in wildfire zones.

RELATED: Wildfire smoke clearing in B.C.: CDC

While winds have died down since this past weekend, the BC Wildfire Service is worried about a weather system coming in Saturday.

“We are concerned with the forecast for the weekend,” said Skrepnek. “We are looking at some strong and sustained wind.”

The Cariboo should be prepared for lightning strikes this afternoon, he added.

RELATED: Break and enter arrest made in 100 Mile evacuation area

RCMP Sgt. Annie Linteau said that extra officer continue to be deployed in wildfire zones. Police officers from Alberta have now been rotated in to provide relief of B.C. officers. Linteau said that the experience Alberta police gained during the Fort McMurray fires has been invaluable to B.C.’s police.

twitter.com

She confirmed that the RCMP were arrested two “prolific offenders” on July 11. Two search warrants have been carried out as of July 12. A 27-year-old man and 24-year old woman are in custody and could face charges in connection with stolen property found during the searches.

VIDEO: Horgan speaks on B.C.’s wildfires in Kamloops

Speaking on NDP government that will be sworn in on July 18, Turner said that the transition team has been regularly briefed on the wildfire situation.

The fine for having a campfire if there is a ban in place is $1,150. If that contributes to a fire, Skrepnek said, offenders could be liable for the costs of fighting the fire. The ministry continues to investigate allegations that firefighters were seen having a campfire in a no-campfire zone.

twitter.com

As of 2 p.m. July 13, wildfires of note sit at:

www.twitter.com

storify

Just Posted

Parents call for change to health laws after Oak Bay teen’s death

Accidental overdose has Elliot Eurchuk’s parents seeking change to B.C Infants Act

LGBTQ advocates turn Victoria SOGI protest into dance party

Counter-protest outnumbers anti-SOGI activists on lawn of B.C. legislature

Tsawout hosts Saanich Peninsula community leaders at blanket ceremony

Reconciliation event meant to share the Indigenous exerience

WATCH:First responders score first, take inaugural Challenge Cup in Oak Bay

Ice hockey game raises funds for Cops for Cancer, encourages positive interaction with youth

Amazing Race Canada kicks off at Hatley Castle

Popular reality TV show will premiere later this year

UPDATED: 9 killed, 16 injured after van hits pedestrians in Toronto

Toronto police say nine people have died and 16 are injured

As Osoyoos Indian Band flourishes, so too does Okanagan’s wine tourism

Indigenous practices have driven growth of South Okanagan’s wine history and agricultural influence

Judith Guichon steps down as Lieutenant Governor of B.C.

Election decision didn’t make her best moments from the past six years

Vancouver to rake in $30 million in empty homes tax in first year

The tax is the first of its kind in Canada, and was intended to address the city’s near-zero vacancy rate

B.C.’s snowpack continues to increase, melting delayed

River Forecast Centre official says sudden melting further into the season could cause flooding

Another B.C. First Nation voices support for Kinder Morgan pipeline

Simpcw First Nation claims people living on one-third of pipeline route support the project

Scooter crash leaves Island man with critical injuries

RCMP said a truck was making a left-hand turn when it collided with the scooter travelling through the intersection

Prankster broadcasts fake nuclear threat in Winnipeg

The audio recording on Sunday warned of a nuclear attack against Canada and the United States

ICBC reform aims to slow rising car insurance costs

‘Pain and suffering’ payouts to be capped, major injury limit to double

Most Read