British Columbia

Firefighters deployed to B.C. from Eastern Canada as nearly 200 fires burn across province

The BC Wildfire Service said 100 incoming personnel from Ontario and New Brunswick will be assigned to B.C.'s Interior region, where many of the province's most threatening fires have been burning for several days.

Roughly 100 personnel from Ontario, New Brunswick to be sent to B.C. Interior

Firefighters with the BC Wildfire Service put out hot spots on the McKay Creek wildfire, north of Lillooet. (BC Wildfire Service)

Dozens of firefighters from Eastern Canada began to arrive in British Columbia on Monday as nearly 200 wildfires continue to burn across the province.

The BC Wildfire Service said 100 incoming personnel from Ontario and New Brunswick will be assigned to B.C.'s Interior region, where many of the province's most threatening fires have been burning for several days.

There were 199 active fires across the province as of Monday afternoon, with 46 sparked in the last two days. Two-thirds of them are classified as out of control. 

Evacuation orders are in place as a result of five of those wildfires, including one near Lytton, located northeast of Vancouver, where a fire destroyed much of the village last week.

Meanwhile, severe thunderstorms are forecast for several areas in British Columbia's southern Interior on Tuesday, adding to the fire danger in the province. Environment Canada says conditions are favourable for very strong winds, large hail and heavy rain in at least eight regions in the province.

Bill Blair, the federal minister for public safety and emergency preparedness, said on Twitter on Sunday that the Canadian Armed Forces will also provide air support for areas affected by the wildfires until July 19.

So far this season, more than 680 wildfires have been reported across B.C., burning nearly 900 square kilometres of land. That area is more than three times the 10-year average for this time of year.

WATCH | Fires continue to burn across B.C.:

Wildfires rage in B.C. as dry conditions continue

3 months ago
4:59
'We are still experiencing that hot weather ... and we are also seeing the drying trend continue with fuels remaining highly susceptible to ignition,' said B.C. provincial fire information officer Jean Strong. 4:59

Lytton residents to tour village

Residents of the village of Lytton and the surrounding area will have an opportunity to return to their communities as soon as it is safe to enter the area, according to local officials.

The Thompson-Nicola Regional District is working to organize bus trips to allow residents to survey the damage for themselves for the first time since the fire on June 30. Two people were killed in the blaze.

The wildfire service said Sunday it believes the fire that devastated communities in and around Lytton was caused by people. Fire information officer Erika Berg said Sunday the service suspects the fire came from within the village, but it could take weeks or months to finish the investigation.

RCMP investigators will be back in Lytton on Monday. 

"Human cause is definitely one of the speculations that we're looking at, as opposed to natural [causes]," RCMP spokesperson Dawn Roberts told CBC News.

The shells of a minivan and pickup truck are seen in Lytton, B.C., after a catastrophic fire destroyed much of the village and surrounding communities on June 30. (Supplied by Jon Mundall)

Heat warnings continue

Elsewhere, an evacuation order remains in place for more than 100 homes 40 kilometres southwest of Kamloops, B.C., due to an out-of-control wildfire.

The Regional District of Central Kootenay said a wildfire burning near Castlegar, B.C., was under control and expected to be fully contained by Sunday night.

Environment Canada is maintaining heat warnings for several B.C. regions on Monday. Daytime highs of 35 C and nighttime lows barely below 20 C increase the risk of wildfires due to drought conditions, the agency said.

Severe thunderstorm watches are also in effect for several regions in the southeastern Interior. The bulletin said dry lightning and strong winds are possible through the early evening.

Cliff Chapman, the director of provincial operations with the BC Wildfire Service, said crews are expecting temperatures to return to seasonal norms this week after a stretch of record-breaking heat without much rain.

Personnel with the BC Wildfire Service are shown planning the response to the Sparks Lake fire, northwest of Kamloops, B.C. The fire was estimated to be covering 360 square kilometres as of Sunday afternoon. (Twitter/BC Wildfire Service)

Anyone placed under an evacuation order must leave the area immediately. 

Evacuation centres have been set up throughout the province to assist anyone evacuating from a community under threat from a wildfire. To find the centre closest to you, visit the Emergency Management BC website.

Evacuees are encouraged to register with Emergency Support Services online, whether or not they access services at an evacuation centre.

Those looking for loved ones can contact the Canadian Red Cross for family reunification services at 1-800-863-6582.

Corrections

  • An earlier version of this story stated residents of Lytton would be able to return to tour the community on July 7. In fact, the time of the tour has not yet been confirmed.
    Jul 05, 2021 1:29 PM PT

With files from The Canadian Press, CBC's The Early Edition and Susana da Silva

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