British Columbia

B.C. Wildfires 2018: 'Intense' lightning storms ramp up wildfires across the province

Reinforcements are on the way from across Canada and around the world as B.C. firefighters deal with hundreds of wildfires.

With 466 fires currently burning, province experiencing year's 1st 'high level of fire activity'

The Placer Mountain fire in B.C. has forced the evacuation of the Cathedral Lakes Lodge for a second straight year and is considered out of control. (B.C. Wildfire Service)

With 466 fires now burning across the province, the B.C. Wildfire Service has reached a Provincial Preparedness Level of 4 for the first time in 2018 — meaning the province is experiencing a "high level of fire activity."

According to the B.C. Wildfire Service, "intense" lightning storms across the province have led to multiple fire starts and will require assistance from outside the province.

"To ensure we can maintain our capacity, the B.C. Wildfire Service is currently requesting resources from elsewhere in Canada and internationally to assist with the wildfire situation," a statement reads. There are already 2,200 people involved in the wildfire response.

An additional 20 Alberta firefighters and 15 from the Northwest Territories arrived on Thursday. Another 20 crew members from Saskatchewan, plus 10 support staff, are expected Sunday.

International help will begin pouring in next week, including 62 firefighters from Mexico, 65 firefighters and support staff from New Zealand, and another 25 support staff from Australia.

Threat to ranching

Friday morning, the government closed two swaths of back-country in the Similkameen region of the southern Interior because of the Snowy Mountain wildfire, which is spreading both north and south.

Lower Similkameen Indian Band Chief Keith Crow said the wildfire has surrounded and trapped some cattle.

"There wasn't an opportunity to get those cattle out. Some came down on their own but there are a fair bit of cattle that are stuck up in there. We are a little scared," Crow said. 

  • The B.C. Wildfire Service is responding to a new wildfire within the city of Merritt that is estimated to be three hectares. There are ground crews, helicopters and air tankers on site that are assisting members of the local fire department.
  • On Friday night the Snowy Mountain fire jumped to the eastside of the Similkamen river. Five evacuation orders were issued, and 500 people remain on alert.
  • The B.C. Wildfire Service is working to put two area restrictions in the Vernon fire zone by Friday at noon to protect public safety. One restriction will be around the Sugar Mountain wildfire and will include the Sugar Creek recreational site. The second area restriction will be around the Mabel Creek wildfire, along the east edge of Mabel Lake as well as east along the Tsuius Creek.

  • The B.C. Wildfire Service has identified 15 wildfires in the Chilcotin fire zone since Monday. Five of those fires are highly visible from Highway 20 and communities.
  • The Placer Mountain wildfire that forced the evacuation of Cathedral Lakes Lodge for a second straight year had grown to more than 2,300 hectares as of Thursday.
A view of the Snowy Mountain fire while travelling through Cawston, just outside Keremeos (Submitted by Kate Donegani)

  • In advance of the B.C. Day long weekend, the province is asking people to be extra vigilant in preventing new fires from igniting. "Be careful when you're out in the back country," said Forests Minister Doug Donaldson. "Follow the rules and avoid any activities that could start a wildfire."
  • The B.C. Wildfire Service estimates 27 per cent of the 1,260 wildfires in the province since April 1 have been human caused.

For the latest wildfire information, visit:

B.C. Wildfire Service
Emergency Info B.C.

Listen to the full interview with Chief Keith Crow on Daybreak South:

With files from Daybreak South

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