B.C. wildfire conditions are heading in the right direction, official says

A British Columbia Forest Fire Department official said conditions were moving in the right direction, with the number of fires threatening public safety and property falling to two dozen from 30 earlier this month.

Todd Nessman says cooler temperatures have helped curb the significant growth in fires in recent days and that teams are making “excellent progress” on some of the bigger fires.

He says there are still areas that haven’t seen significant rain, including parts of the Cariboo and southern Okanagan, and the fire departments are closely monitoring the situation there.

Just weeks ago, British Columbia was experiencing its third heat wave and thousands of residents were forced to leave their properties or were placed on evacuation alert to be ready to go as dozens of residents fires encroached on properties. Although the situation has improved, evacuation orders remain in place for more than 3,500 properties across the province.

Nessman, who is the service’s manager of wildfire operations, said crews were making “excellent progress” on the western flank of the 809 square kilometer blaze at White Rock Lake that destroyed dozens of homes and chased thousands of areas between Kamloops and Okanagan. Lake in the southern interior of British Columbia.

However, later Tuesday afternoon, the Okanagan Indian Band issued an expanded evacuation order for dozens of properties, citing an “immediate danger to the safety of persons” from the White Rock Lake fire.

Ten days ago, thick smoke from the White Rock Lake wildfire filled the air and nearly blocked out the mid-afternoon sun east of Kamloops, B.C. . (The Canadian Press / Darryl Dyck)

Nessman says British Columbia will see a series of [weather] models ”over the next week, although there is potential for more fires and growth until more rain arrives to deal with the underlying drought in many parts of the province.

“All the signs are sort of pointing to a pretty stable environment where we’re not going to see this high fire behavior, conditions that are of great concern to us and that we experienced not so long ago, even ago. a week. “

The fire department has reduced its fleet of aerial firefighters somewhat, which Nessman says is a good indicator of the teams’ progress in tackling nearly 250 fires.

The wildfire department is aiming for strong containment lines and a lack of sustained growth during the largest and most threatening fires, Nessman said. That’s when he was able to recommend to local governments that some of the 111 evacuation alerts and 54 evacuation orders covering nearly 3,800 properties could be lifted, he says.

Some of the biggest fires have been burning since early July and the Forest Fire Department plans to continue working to put them out for the next few weeks, he adds.

Also on Tuesday, the province announced the reopening of Highway 12 between Lillooet and Lytton. The road has been closed since a wildfire swept through and destroyed most of Lytton on June 30.

British Columbia has recorded 1,545 wildfires that have burned more than 8,800 square kilometers of land since the start of the season, Nessman said.

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