British Columbia

Change in the weather expected for fire-ridden B.C. this weekend

The B.C. Wildfire Service said the forest fire situation across the province remained dire Thursday, though a change in the weather is expected this weekend and into next week.

'Most areas of B.C. can expect at least some precipitation,' fire information officer says

The Muddy Lake, Lovell Creek South and Tahltan River fires merged with the Alkali Lake fire near B.C.'s Stikine River on Wednesday. The resulting blaze is estimated to be 100,000 hectares in size. (B.C. Wildfire Service/Twitter)

The B.C. Wildfire Service said the forest fire situation across the province remained dire Thursday, though a change in the weather is expected this weekend and into next week.

Most areas around B.C. have at least a little rain in the forecast for the next few days, according to officials.

Fire information officer Ryan Turcot said the province needs heavy rain for a long time to make a dent in the fire situation but any bit of moisture can help.

A man walks between tents at a camp where wildfire firefighters and staff are staying in an outdoor sports field, at Fraser Lake, B.C., on Wednesday. (Darryl Dyck/Canadian Press)

"Even if we do see a little bit of precipitation over the next week, that should at least bring some relief in terms of taming the behaviour on some of the large wildfires we're responding to," he said Thursday.

"Of course, weather models are constantly changing their minds on precipitation, but the general expectation between [Thursday] and Tuesday: most areas of B.C. can expect at least some precipitation."

Turcot said the forecast comes as the province moves from dry, clear weather into a cooler, more unstable weather pattern

"The caveat is always, when we do see these more unstable conditions, it can often mean increased potential for lightning activity and gusty winds," he added.

Aggressive fires in northern B.C.

The central-northern corridor between Smithers and Prince George is still the biggest area of concern for the wildfire service given the size and intensity of fires burning there.

In particular, the officer said the Verdun and Nadina Lake fires are showing "exceptionally extreme fire behaviour" and will likely continue to be a challenge for firefighters.

Several smaller fires merged with the larger Alkali Lake wildfire on Wednesday, creating a single 100,000-hectare blaze. (Though, Turcot said, smoky skies means perimeter mapping may not be 100 per cent accurate.)

Two women watch from across the water as the Shovel Lake wildfire burns near Fraser Lake, B.C., on Aug. 17. (Darryl Dyck/Canadian Press)

Other fires around the province prompted evacuation orders that afternoon, including for homes and cottages threatened by an aggressive blaze east of Pemberton.

Homes lost

On Wednesday, leaders in the tiny community of Lower Post — near the Yukon border — confirmed three structures were lost as a 50-square-kilometre wildfire ran through the middle of the village.

Area residents who defied evacuation orders said another three properties burned down Wednesday night near Takysie Lake west of Prince George.

More than two dozen homes have also been burned in Telegraph Creek, B.C., this year.

Nearly 5,000 people are under evacuation orders with more than 22,000 on evacuation alert across the province. Around 13,000 livestock are under those orders and alerts as well.

Dense smoke from the fires continued to prompt air quality alerts across most of B.C., though Metro Vancouver and the Fraser Valley had begun to clear as ocean air moved onshore Thursday morning.

More fire information:

  • B.C. remains in a provincewide state of emergency. There are more than 560 wildfires burning across the province. 
  • Sixteen new fires started Wednesday. Of all the fires in the province, 56 are fires of note.
  • The B.C. Wildfire Service has spent more than $282 million fighting this year's wildfires.
  • Wildfire smoke over Western Canada is visible from NASA's DSCOVR satellite — which is about 1.6 million kilometres away.

B.C. wildfire map:

B.C. evacuation map:

With files from Jon Hernandez, Rhianna Schmunk and the Canadian Press

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