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B.C. wildfires: 215 fires burning, 72 of them out of control

Close to 40,000 hectares have burned this year
BC Wildfire Service crews are battling 215 active fires throughout the province as of Aug. 23. (BC Wildfire Service/Twitter)

Another 23 wildfires cropped up across B.C. throughout the day Monday (Aug. 22), bringing the province to a total of 215 active blazes as of Tuesday morning.

About a third (72 fires) are considered out of control, with another 52 under control and 32 being held. An additional 54 are new ones and five are fires of note, meaning they are especially visible or pose a potential threat to the public.

Particularly hot and dry weather in the southeast corner of the province is feeding 69 of the blazes, with another 37 around Prince George, 33 around Kamloops and 33 in the Cariboo region. Wildfire crews are battling an additional 24 in the coastal region and 19 in the northwest.

The majority of wildfires continue to be caused by lightning strikes, with 78 per cent currently classified as such. People are believed to have started another 7 per cent of them, while the cause of the remaining ones is unknown.

So far in 2022, close to 40,000 hectares have been burned by wildfires. That’s compared to more than 850,000 hectares in 2021 and a 10-year burn area average of 320,377 hectares.

BC Wildfire Service says the relatively calmer wildfire season this year is due in large part to the wet winter and long, cool spring the province experienced.

Still, wildfires are expected to crop up throughout the month of August as most regions see above seasonal temperatures.

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As of Tuesday, there are five fires of note BC Wildfire Service is keeping a particularly close eye on. They include:

Keremeos Creek

Estimated fire size: 7,042 hectares

Location: 21 kilometres southwest of Penticton

Discovered: July 29

Cause: Under investigation

Wind and topography continue to drive fire behaviour at Keremeos Creek, according to BC Wildfire. The blaze grew 100 hectares on Saturday due to wind at high elevations and a couple planned ignitions.

The fire is stable along the western side of Highway 3A, but BC Wildfire says smoke will remain in the area.

Evacuation alerts are in effect and the Keremeos Creek Forest Service Road remains closed.

There are 198 firefighters, 10 helicopters and 12 pieces of heavy equipment on scene.

Briggs Creek

Estimated fire size: 2,160 hectares

Location: 11.5 kilometres west of Kaslo

Discovered: Aug. 1

Cause: Lightning

New mapping of the area was completed on Sunday during a break in the smoke, revealing a total burn area about 430 hectares larger than previously reported. BC Wildfire says the increase is due both to the more accurate mapping and some growth that occurred over the last week.

Structures are not currently threatened by the fire and as of Monday afternoon an evacuation alert has been lifted. An area restriction remains in place.

Twenty-nine firefighters and one helicopter are on scene.

Connell Ridge

Estimated fire size: 1,707 hectares

Location: 23 kilometres south of Cranbrook

Discovered: Aug. 1

Cause: Lightning

Crews worked Sunday to attack hot spots in the fire, after an infrared scanning team identified the worst areas Saturday night.

An evacuation alert was rescinded Saturday afternoon, but an area restriction remains in place.

Helicopters continue to bucket the area while ground crews continue to widen a burn perimeter around the blaze to contain it.

There are 92 firefighters on scene, along with six helicopters and six pieces of heavy equipment.

Weasel Creek

Estimated fire size: 1,177 hectares

Location: 2 kilometres west of Frozen Lake and 39 kilometres southeast of Baynes Lake

Discovered: Aug. 4

Cause: Lightning

The wildfire’s burn area grew slightly Monday from 1,119 to 1,177 hectares.

Crews have completed setting up a new camp closer to the fire, which is reducing drive time and allowing firefighters to stay on scene longer.

The area of the fire with the most activity is at the western end of Couldrey Creek. There, the flames are sticking primarily to the ground, while occasionally burning up some trees.

An area restriction is in place.

There are 79 firefighters on scene, along with six helicopters and 14 pieces of heavy equipment.

Mount Docking

Estimated fire size: 1,333 hectares

Location: 27 kilometres east of the Village of Radium Hot Springs

Discovered: July 30

Cause: Lightning

Fire behaviour is considered low, with it remaining close to the ground and slow moving. However, steep terrain continues to challenge crews in reaching certain areas.

An area restriction is in place.

There are 42 firefighters and one helicopter on scene.


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