British Columbia

Wildfire evacuation orders downgraded, alerts lifted as cool, rainy conditions help firefighters

Rainy conditions on B.C.'s South Coast and other part of the province have helped firefighters gain ground on wildfires, but many continue to burn. The B.C. Wildfire Service is asking residents to still respect campfire bans and backcountry restrictions.

More than 3,000 firefighters continue to fight 162 fires that continue to burn

A firefighter works on a controlled burn for the Finlay Creek Fire. The fire, near Peachland, B.C. is more than 2,000 hectares in size but now 50 per cent contained. (B.C. Wildfire Service)

Rainy conditions on B.C.'s South Coast and other parts of the province have helped firefighters gain ground on wildfires, but many continue to burn.

"With the weather patterns we've been seeing recently, there has been some good news especially in the Cariboo and Okanagan regions," said Ryan Turcot, a fire information officer with the B.C. Wildfire Service.

"We have started to see some precipitation and some cooler conditions that has led to some decreased fire behaviour."

He says more than 3,000 firefighters and staff are working this weekend to control 166 fires that continue to burn.

Southeastern B.C. remains a concern, as there has been little precipitation there at all.

Across the province there are 20 evacuation orders still in place affecting about 4,800 people.

On Sunday, two evacuation orders — one in the Cariboo region and another in the Okanagan-Similkameen region — were downgraded to alerts.

Meanwhile, there are still more than two dozen evacuation alerts affecting communities.

Still real fire danger

"The weather is beginning to co-operate with us a bit more but it's still too early to be complacent," said Turcot. "There is still a very real fire danger in many parts of the province."

He is asking residents to respect campfire bans and backcountry restrictions that are still in place.

"One human-caused fire would draw resources away from what we are currently facing," he said.

Multiple air quality statements issued by Environment Canada, including ones for Kelowna and Kamloops, have also been lifted due to improved conditions. Statements warning of poor air quality still exist for parts of Vancouver Island.

Long recovery

B.C.'s forests ministry says it will take at least five years for the province's forestry industry to recover from this year's devastating fire season.

More than 1,200 wildfires have sparked across B.C. since April 1, charring an estimated 11,500 square kilometres of land.

Forests Minister Doug Donaldson says an estimated 53 million cubic metres of timber have also been lost to the flames.