British Columbia

Flood and fires strike B.C. north and Interior

The recent hot spell has pushed up the fire risk in some parts B.C. to hit extreme levels, while other areas have yet to dry out from the torrential rains that washed out highways and roads more than a week ago.

The recent hot spell has pushed up the fire risk in some parts B.C., while other areas have yet to dry out from the torrential rains that washed out highways and roads more than a week ago.

Temperatures around Kamloops and Merritt are expected to continue to hit the mid-30 Celsius degree range until Thursday and that's pushed the fire risk to hit extreme levels in some areas, according to fire information officer Travis Abbey.

"With a lack of precipitation over the last few days some of our danger ratings in the fire centre have gone into the extreme category in a couple of small pockets in Merritt and Kamloops," she said.

But Abbey says there have only been 66 fires this year compared to the annual average of 158 fires because cooler temperatures for much of the spring have kept the number of fires down.

Much of the province remains under a very low, low, or moderate fire danger rating, with only a few pockets rated high or extreme.

Campfires are still permitted in all areas, but larger open fires are restricted in several regions, including the Coastal, Kamloops, Southeast and Cariboo fire regions.

Highway 97 still washed out

The rain has been so heavy in some northern areas of the province, 10 days after major flooding closed several roads and highways, B.C.'s main tourist route to Alaska is still washed out.

Normally Highway 97 is extremely busy at this time of year, with travellers driving through B.C. to Alaska.

But this summer the route remains closed north of Prince George, between Mackenzie and Chetwynd and hundreds of travellers are having to change their plans, according to Terry Murphy at the Prince George Visitor's Centre.

"We have had some people who have been upset, especially in the early hours of when it happened a couple of weeks ago. They were pretty upset…but as I say, there's been signs put on the highway and with TV and internet, most people know about it," he said. 

Transportation officials say a large road crew is trying to fix the 15 washouts along Highway 97. But officials still don't know when the road will reopen north of Mackenzie. Detours are in effect through Alberta and northwestern B.C.

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