British Columbia

Fewer active fires in B.C., but threat still high in bone-dry southern regions

Above average temperatures for many parts of British Columbia aren't expected to ease any time soon — and Environment Canada says there's no hint of showers until at least the weekend for some southern regions hit hard by wildfires.

Forecasters expect temperatures from mid- to high 30s all week with no sign of rain

A helicopter flies behind a ridge as the Tremont Creek wildfire burns on the mountains above Ashcroft, B.C., on July 16. (Darryl Dyck/The Canadian Press)

Above average temperatures for many parts of British Columbia aren't expected to ease soon — and Environment Canada says there is no hint of showers until at least the weekend for some southern regions hit hard by wildfires.

There are more than 250 active wildfires as of 8:30 a.m. PT on Monday, which is down slightly from the more than 300 fires burning last week. Flames have scorched more than 4,100 square kilometres of land since the fire season started almost four months ago, according to Emergency Management B.C.

The fire risk remains high to extreme over most of southern B.C. The B.C. Wildfire Service says 40 blazes are ranked as fires of note, meaning flames are either highly visible or pose an immediate safety risk.

The weather office predicts lighter winds over several of the most challenging fires, including the 68-square kilometre Nk'Mip Creek blaze in the south Okanagan between Oliver and Osoyoos.

The province announced that 34 Australian firefighting personnel will arrive on Tuesday to help. They will join 101 firefighters from Mexico and others from Quebec, Alberta, Nova Scotia and Parks Canada. 

Firefighters from Mexico walk across the tarmac after arriving on a charter flight in Abbotsford, B.C., on July 24. Ninety-nine firefighters will assist in tackling more than 200 wildfires burning across the province. (Darryl Dyck/The Canadian Press)

Forecasters predict high temps, no rain

But forecasters say temperatures there won't budge from the mid- to high 30s all week, and there's no sign of rain.

"The hot, dry weather continues for the southern Interior, where we're seeing so many fires [and] so much smoke. All that is expected to continue," said Environment Canada meteorologist Bobby Sekhon told CBC News in an interview. 

"We're going to see temperatures increase this week. That Wednesday-to-Saturday stretch looks to be the hottest of the next week here and we can see potential for heat warnings coming into play as well."

Meteorologists are also keeping an eye out for lightning.

"There is a slight chance of getting some lightning, in fact, in the southern Interior this week with some impulses coming up from the southwest. That's going to be something to track because, of course, any lightning strikes — if not accompanied by precipitation — can ignite fires."

Showers could dampen parts of southeast B.C., where fires on both sides of Upper Arrow Lake have forced evacuation orders or alerts for hundreds of properties.

But Environment Canada said the chance of rain in that area is just 30 per cent and it won't come until Saturday at the earliest.

Emergency Management B.C. says 4,260 properties remain on evacuation order across B.C., while residents of just under 18,000 properties have been warned to be ready to leave on short notice.

On Monday afternoon, an evacuation alert was issued for Pinaus Lake, running South to Bouleau Lake due to a wildfire at White Rock Lake northeast of Merritt.

Internet service down in Grand Forks

Some families living in the Grand Forks area in the West Kootenay have been without phone, internet and TV service for three days. Shaw Communications said service was lost Friday due to wildfire activity nearby. 

"We continue to face restrictions that prevent us from accessing our equipment to complete repairs due to wildfire activity," the company wrote in an update posted Monday

Grand Forks is about 125 kilometres east of Osoyoos, close to the U.S. border. 

Shaw has not said how many customers are affected.

With files from CBC News


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