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

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

WATCH: Team Capital News spices it up with ‘Ladies’ Choice’

If you missed them at Swinging With the Stars, you can watch the team’s performance here

South Okanagan mayors put their BCHL jerseys on the line

Mayors of Penticton and West Kelowna make a “friendly” wager on the BCHL series outcome.

Central Okanagan school board members approve $50,000 loan for KLO modular farm

The garden will grow lettuce, kale and other vegetables once completed

Guilty plea withdrawn in West Kelowna murder trial

Tejwant Danjou’s application to have his impromptu guilty plea removed was accepted by the court

UBCO researchers create technology to help protect grapes from wildfire smoke

Spray could potentially be applied on farms across the Okanagan

It’s Treat Week at Kelowna’s BC SPCA branch

Get some treats and meet some furry friends

Okanagan Indian Band voices support for Wet’suwet’en Nation

Band stands with hereditary chiefs’ fight against Coastal GasLink pipeline in letter to PM

Cheslatta Carrier Nation and Rio Tinto sign a historic agreement

Co-operation crucial to stem dropping Nechako Reservoir level

Vernon dust factor nearly five times that of Kelowna

Road grit a factor in uptick of advisories

Study continues on Summerland’s perpetual slide

Slide in Paradise Flats area has affected Trout Creek for more than 100 years

Hundreds of B.C. firefighters ‘climb the wall’ for BC Lung Association

The charity fundraiser saw participants climbing up 48 storeys

Salmon Arm RCMP, new immigrants get acquainted at police station

Tour of detachment provides opportunity to explore differences in judicial systems

Stories of sexual assault at B.C. tree planting camps ‘shocking but not surprising:’ advocate

Contractors’ association is working with trainers to create respectful culture

New York performer can’t wait to bring Chicago to the South Okanagan

The timeless, award-winning musical comes to the South Okanagan Events Centre March 28.

Most Read