British Columbia

B.C. wildfires remain a threat this long weekend, officials warn

While temperatures have dropped and much of the smoke has cleared from the skies, drought conditions persist and the wildfire danger rating remains extreme on the east coast of Vancouver Island and parts of the Central Interior.

Extreme fire danger, campfire bans, drought conditions persist

Smoke rises from an area burned by the Shovel Lake wildfire near Endako, B.C., on Aug. 16. More than 500 fires are still burning across B.C. (Darryl Dyck/Canadian Press)

The risk of wildfires remains high or extreme across large areas of B.C., officials are warning ahead of the Labour Day long weekend.

While temperatures have dropped and much of the smoke has cleared from the skies, drought conditions persist and the wildfire danger rating remains extreme on the east coast of Vancouver Island and parts of the Central Interior.

Currently, 518 wildfires are burning in B.C., with 53 wildfires that are highly visible or posing a potential threat to public safety.

Campfires are still banned throughout the province, with the exception of the "fog zone" on the west coast of Vancouver Island, and the Peace Forest District and Fort Nelson Forest District in the Prince George Fire Centre.

165 structures damaged

So far this season, wildfires have destroyed half as many structures compared with the same time last year, according to preliminary figures from Emergency Management B.C. 

The agency says 165 houses, barns, bridges and other structures have been reported lost to wildfires since April 1, compared with 310 by the same date in 2017.

However, that the estimate is based on reports from local governments, which means they could increase as evacuees return home, the agency says. 

From April 1 to Aug. 30, the B.C. Wildfire Service responded to 2,015 wildfires throughout the province, with 444 of those fires caused by people.

While the human impacts have been lower than other years, the service says the area of land burned has surpassed last year's fires by about 350 square kilometres, breaking the record for total area burned set in 2017.

Wildfire map:

Evacuation alerts and orders:

With files from the Canadian Press

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