A helicopter sprays the wildfire in Princeton. A helicopter sprays the wildfire in Princeton. (Black Press)

Wildfires burn 78,000 hectares across B.C.

Rate of new fires slowing down

As of Wednesday afternoon, there were 36 fewer wildfires burning across B.C. compared to yesterday, according to chief fire information officer Kevin Skrepnek.

Crews have been able to better map the fire borders today, Skrepnek said, leading to the apparent growth in hectares burned.

RELATED: Interactive map paints B.C. wildfire picture

The outlook province-wide is better today than it was yesterday, Skrepnek noted. There are 183 fires burning in B.C. today, down from 219 yesterday. In total, there have been 602 fires since April 1; 12 of those started today.

“Yesterday was a good day compared to what we’ve been seeing,” said Skrepnek. “Going into this weekend there is a potential for some gusty winds. We are keeping a close eye on that.”

RELATED: Surrey firefighters arrive in Williams Lake today to battle wildfires

Skrepnek said that while firefighters have been making progress against the flames blanketing B.C., they are pacing themselves for a potentially long fire season.

Crews are in a good place right now but it is only July 12,” said Skrepnek. “We’re currently at 300 [out-of-province] personnel right now.”

VIDEO: Devastating footage from Boston Flats

There are 37 fixed wing aircraft currently in the BC Wildfire Service fleet, including 13 additional aircraft the service has brought in, and approximately 200 helicopters.

There are no plans to hire the Hawaii Mars for this firefighting season, Skrepnek noted.

“There are simply more effective aircraft that are available,” he said.

RELATED: Province says no to Hawaii Mars

Speaking to the photos on social media showing firefighters at a campfire despite the campfire zone, Skrepnek said that the issue will be investigated.

“We are aware of those images,” Skrepnek said. “The ministry is taking the matter very seriously.”

Emergency Management BC deputy minister Robert Turner said that 7,886 people have registered at local emergency social services centres and 3,500 are taking advantage of the emergency lodging available.

Hot, dry and windy weather continues to be expected across the B.C. interior, Skrepnek noted and out-of-province firefighters have been added to beef up B.C.’s ranks. Turner said that 150 fire departments from across B.C. have offered their help and a total of 22 have been deployed. Canadian Forces personnel are on standby but Turner said that they will be a “last resort.”

RELATED: Seven days is a “Disneyland suggestion” for returning home

While much of the wildfire zone remains smoky, BC Centre for Disease Control data shows that the air quality has improved somewhat.

It’s the first time we’ve seen blue skies [in Kamloops] in a few days,” said Skrepnek.

“[The smoke]hasn’t been a significant hindrance,” said Skrepnek. “It was never to the point where the [Kamloops] airport has been closed down.”

RCMP officers from all around the province are being deployed to the southeast and north districts, Sgt. Annie Linteau said.

“Those officers are there to supplement the officers already there on the ground,” said Linteau, adding that the redistribution of officers won’t affect policing in other areas of B.C.

“As of yesterday, there had been 300 additional members that had or will be deployed.”

On Wednesday, RCMP officers from Alberta have also been sent to help out.

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

Speaking to the incidents of looting that have been reported upon, Linteau said the RCMP are monitoring those closely.

“I can confirm that those incidents are somewhat isolated,” said Linteau. “We invite anyone who sees suspicious activity to phone their local police detachment immediately.”


@katslepian

katya.slepian@bpdigital.ca

Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter.

Just Posted

Man in custody linked to Silver Creek property search

Police have not connected arrest to search at Salmon River Road property

Minister announces funding to upgrade Kettle Valley Rail Trail

Kelowna - $500,000 will go towards project that will upgrade Kettle Valley trail

Residents pay tribute to city’s homeless

He was articulate and well-spoken. He was great at self-reflection. He liked watching the Canucks. And more often than not, he lived at the Howard House Men’s Shelter.

Day 2 of RCMP search at Silver Creek residence

Police use backhoe in ongoing search effort at residential/agricultural Salmon River Road property

Kelowna resident hopes to create more with haunted house

Paul Coxe’s haunted house will be on display at 945 Grenfell Road, Friday, Oct. 27

Mixing up local talent and cocktails

The annual Okanagan Spirits Craft Distillery Mixoff takes place in Kelowna in November

B.C. search groups mobilize for missing mushroom picker

Searchers from across the province look for Frances Brown who has been missing since Oct. 14.

Search for missing B.C. man a race against winter weather

David Jeff of Williams Lake was last seen in Kamloops during the chaotic wildfire evacuations

Expanding your creative process at UBCO

Kelowna - Creative Days events will be held at the university Saturday, Oct. 21, and Nov. 18

Exercising her right to fight

Thinking inside the box helped push Geneva Kostashen through cancer treatment

Residents pay tribute to city’s homeless

He was articulate and well-spoken. He was great at self-reflection. He liked watching the Canucks. And more often than not, he lived at the Howard House Men’s Shelter.

Man steals police car, goes for a ‘slow’ ride

Mission RCMP say the motive of the theft is unknown

Dodgers punch ticket to World Series

This will be the first time the Los Angles Dodgers have made it to the World Series since 1988.

Surf group winning the war on plastic bags

The Tofino Co-op will no longer provide plastic bags, following in the footsteps of the Ucluelet location that already made the change earlier this year.

Most Read