Heat warning bad news for wildfire fighters; state of emergency extended

Image via Jonathon Brown.

The next few weeks will see unprecedented heat in BC and that is bad news for the ongoing wild fire fight.

Chief Fire Information Officer Kevin Skrepnek says the challenges start on Saturday.

“Hot and dry expected for most of the province, a small band of showers is going to move through the central part of the province, areas to the north and south of that are going to remain dry and unfortunately we are expecting some locally gusty winds,” he says.

Notable fires:

The Diamond Creek fire burning along the US / Canada border has been causing smoke seen across the south of the province.

Skepnek explains that the Canadian part of the fire is burning 2,000 hectares, while the US side is burning 24,000 hectares.

“We’re working with our counterparts in the US Forest Service, we’re monitoring it on a constant basis to see what it’s doing, it is burning in a relatively remote area at this time, the remoteness and terrain, we’re not attacking it directly, we are putting strategies in place depending on what the fire does over the next few days.”

The Philpot Road Fire 20 kilometres east of Kelowna, north of Highway 33 remains the same, still 465 hectares, 30% contained.

“Relatively good progress, given how aggressive this fire was only a week ago,” Skrepnek says. “Still a visible fire.”

The Plateau Wildfire burning in the north Chilcotin, is the largest fire burning in BC’s history, still 492,993 hectares.

“No real growth there, but still some activity, almost 600 fire fighters working on that fire, which we have divided into two pieces, each with a different management team,”

The Elephant Hill Wildfire burning in the south Cariboo isn’t letting up. It’s 186,800 hectares, 50% contained, 463 firefighters, helicopters and aircraft

“Unfortunately, we think this is an area where we think wind is presenting a challenge tomorrow,” Skrepnek admits, noting that 40/km hr winds will pose a challenge.

Skrepnek says they are in discussion with the Cariboo Regional District to see if any evacuation orders or alerts need to be changed.

Communities living around Green Lake and Sheridan Lake could need to leave on half an hour’s notice, or less.

Weather Statement in effect for the South Coast:

Environment Canada says sky-high temperatures can be expected as an unseasonably strong ridge of high pressure builds over the province.

highs of 25 for Saturday by the water, 30 degrees farther inland.

Temperatures are expected to climb into the low 30s by Sunday, for areas way from the immediate coast. The highs are forecast to reach 28 in Vancouver.

The hot weather is expected to last until Wednesday.

By the Numbers, September 1st:

  • 161 fires burning around the province.
  • 22 started on Thursday, most of those sparked in the South East Fire Centre.
  • 1,0181 fires burned since April 1st.
  • 1,080,941 hectares burned.
  • $435.1 million spent by the province.
  • 3,800 staff working under the Wildfire Service.
  • 178 aircraft supporting.
  • The state of emergency has been extended in BC to September 15th.

To report a wildfire, dial *5555.