British Columbia

B.C. fire crews fighting new blazes near 100 Mile House and Port McNeill

B.C.'s wildfire season shows no sign of abating anytime soon, as two new fires flared on Thursday.

Fire west of 100 Mile House has grown to 380 hectares, and evacuation alerts are likely

A fire burns near 100 Mile House, B.C. on July 6, 2017. (Todd Preston/Castanet)

B.C.'s wildfire season shows no sign of abating anytime soon. 

Two new fires gained the attention of firefighting crews on Thursday.

The bigger one is just west of 100 Mile House, where winds have caused a fire that started in the morning and expanded quickly to approximately 380 hectares in size. The second fire is on northern Vancouver Island.

"I've seen some photos from the fire, and there's definitely a lot of wind," said Kevin Skrepnek, B.C.'s chief fire information officer, referring to the fire near 100 Mile House.

No evacuation alerts — yet

Skrepnek said that 40 firefighters from the B.C. Wildfire Service are on scene  — with more on the way — along with multiple aircraft and volunteers from the local fire department.

At this point, no homes are threatened "but given how fast it's burning, it is a possibility," he said. "We're definitely throwing a lot of resources at it."

Watson Lake is being used for water bombers to load up, and some roads in the area have been closed by the RCMP.

No evacuation alerts or orders have been issued as of 6 p.m. PT, but they are likely to come later in the evening, said Skrepnek. 

Fire on northern Vancouver Island

The other fire is on northern Vancouver Island, just north of Nimpkish Lake Provincial Park, which is south of Port McNeill.

It started on Tuesday night, and as of 3:00 p.m. PT Thursday, was out of control and had grown to 20 hectares in size.

"We've got 35 firefighters working on the ground. We've got three officers, thThree helicopters and air tankers are working on it as we speak," said Donna MacPherson, a fire information officer with the B.C. Wildfire Service. 

No structures are currently threatened there either. 

Fire risk high for the foreseeable future

The new wildfires come on the same day that a ban on all campfires and open fires came into effect across much of southwest B.C.

In addition, the fire danger rating is now at high or extreme for all of southern British Columbia. 

"This is the second heat wave we've had in the past few weeks, so even though we had a soggy spring, things have dried out really quickly," said CBC meteorologist Johanna Wagstaffe.

"With record breaking temperatures, it didn't take much for conditions to become explosive," Wagstaffe said.  

"All of our heat this season has come from the U.S. Midwest. We've had their big dry high pressure system shift north twice. For them, the heat wave hasn't let up at all this whole time, and we've been getting the top end of it."

And according to Wagstaffe, things will probably get worse before they get better.

"There's a slight chance of showers for the Interior, but more likely it'll bring gusty winds, which could be a bigger concern for Friday."