B.C. fires: More than 100 new wildfires in 24 hours

In just 24 hours, 115 new wildfires have flared up across B.C. — most of them in the Kamloops and Southeast fire centres.

Lightning, heat and high winds combine to create challenging conditions for firefighters

The Westside Road fire near West Kelowna continued to burn Tuesday afternoon, moving uphill and away from homes, said fire officials. (Greg Rasmussen/CBC)

In just 24 hours, 115 new wildfires have flared up across B.C. — most of them in the Kamloops area and the southeast part of the province.

"Lightning was a huge driver of increased fire activity yesterday and that would be from the lightning activity we saw Sunday night," said Ryan Turcot of the B.C. Wildfire Service. 

Nine communities are under evacuation alerts or orders, according to the wildfire service.

Kelsey Winter, also with B.C. Wildfire Service, said crews are monitoring erratic winds expected to hit the region later today.

"[We're] making sure we get as many resources as we can today, before the winds pick up, and try to get some containment on those fires," said Winter.

West Kelowna fire still growing

A fast-moving wildfire on Westside Road near West Kelowna's Shelter Cove area has now grown to about 430 hectares, up from 175 hectares earlier today and 30 hectares yesterday.

Most of the growth has been uphill, away from nearby homes, but the fire has remained difficult to contain on a steep slope, with high winds and a lot of dry fuel.

"Wind is our number 1 enemy out here," fire information officer Dale Bojara said Tuesday afternoon.

An evacuation order is still in place for approximately 70 properties and nearly 1,400 homes are out of power because of the fire.

Duncan Robinson, who watched the fire from his home across Okanagan Lake, said it intensified as the wind picked up.

"As soon as you felt the wind gust, you would just see huge candling, trees just flaring up," said Robinson.

"I can't even guess how high those flames would have been in the air but definitely quite a show on this side."

Bruce Smith with the Central Okanagan Regional District's Emergency Operations Centre said the fire has not destroyed any structures. 

"We know that the structural fire crews from Wilson's landing in northwest side were very busy last night protecting those properties along Westside Road," said Smith.

Fire crews scramble to contain blaze 1:08

An evacuation centre has been set up at the Westside Lions Community Hall and opened this morning at 8:30 a.m. PT

The emergency centre will help evacuees with food, clothing and lodging.

Smith said crews are also asking boaters to stay out of the area so air crews can gather water to dump on the fire.

Fire grew quickly

Earlier on Monday, the fire was only four hectares, but it grew quickly as strong winds fanned ground that was smouldering from a lightning strike the night before.

On Monday evening, RCMP officers went door to door telling people to leave. Winds pushed the fire toward Westside Road and the homes below it, and much of the hillside was quickly in flames.

Smoke from a fire near West Kelowna, B.C. can be seen from across Okanagan Lake. (Brady Strachan / CBC )

Bolean Lake Resort evacuated

Strong winds are also causing challenging conditions for another wildfire in the Kamloops area, just five kilometres northwest of Falkland, B.C.

As of Monday night, the Bolean Lake wildfire had grown to about 300 hectares and was not at all contained. The B.C. Wildfire Service said the fire was most likely caused by lightning.

The Columbia Shuswap Regional District has issued an evacuation order for the Bolean Lake Resort, and an evacuation alert for other 24 properties.

Evacuation orders require residents to leave immediately, while evacuation alerts require residents to leave at a moment's notice if conditions change.

Rene Talbot, Columbia Shuswap Regional District director, said the smoke is a reminder of just how close the fire is.

Hot, dry conditions

Also in the Kamloops area, 15 kilometres southeast of Ashcroft, a 250-hectare wildfire has prompted an evacuation alert for 28 properties. 

Kelsey Winter,of the B.C. Wildfire Service, said the fire remains uncontained, despite the efforts of 63 firefighters, six air tankers and a helicopter.  

"Tankers and helicopters were unable to action yesterday due to the wind. Today we're hoping to have air support on that fire as well," said Winter.

The fire is burning north of Highway 97C and was discovered yesterday morning. 

Learning English with CBC

Learning English with CBC is a joint project with CBC Edmonton and the Government of Alberta.

In this lesson, you will improve your English while learning about wildfires, the foreign firefighters that have come to Canada to assist put out wildfires. The importance of volunteering will also be discussed.

All of the accompanying language tools are designed to improve English language proficiency. They focus on listening, reading, speaking and writing, along with supplementary grammar, pronunciation, and vocabulary materials. An answer key, transcripts, and links to further information are all provided.

Download Audio
Download Story


All language learning materials were created by Deidre Lake via Communication4Integration Inc.

With files from Brady Strachan and Kirk Williams

Comments

To encourage thoughtful and respectful conversations, first and last names will appear with each submission to CBC/Radio-Canada's online communities (except in children and youth-oriented communities). Pseudonyms will no longer be permitted.

By submitting a comment, you accept that CBC has the right to reproduce and publish that comment in whole or in part, in any manner CBC chooses. Please note that CBC does not endorse the opinions expressed in comments. Comments on this story are moderated according to our Submission Guidelines. Comments are welcome while open. We reserve the right to close comments at any time.