British Columbia

Hot, smoky weather in the forecast for B.C. this long weekend

Environment Canada has issued special weather statements for most of the South Coast, cautioning residents to expect temperatures to begin rising on Friday.

Officials warn people to avoid backcountry in some regions to prevent wildfires

Smoke is seen rising in front of the sun as a wildfire burns near Little Fort, B.C. (Jonathan Haywood/The Canadian Press)

The Labour Day weekend is shaping up to be a hot and smoky one across B.C., forecasters are warning.

Environment Canada has issued public alerts for most of the South Coast, cautioning residents they can expect temperatures to begin rising on Friday and hit the low 30s by Sunday. The area affected stretches from the Fraser Valley to eastern and inland Vancouver Island and north to the Sunshine Coast and Whistler.

The hot weather isn't expected to let up until Tuesday at the earliest.

A stagnant air mass hanging over the region could also mean the return of wildfire smoke to the Lower Mainland, according to Environment Canada.

But smoky conditions are already a daily reality for people living in the southeastern and central portions of the province, where public alerts about air quality remain in effect. Residents of those regions have been warned to avoid strenuous outdoor activities.

Conditions ripe for more wildfires

Meanwhile, the potential for record-breaking temperatures and dry lightning over the long weekend mean that B.C.'s worst wildfire season on record could deteriorate even further, according to B.C. Wildfire Service spokesperson Kevin Skrepnek. 

Campfire bans are in effect for most of the southern parts of the province and off-road vehicles are restricted in the Cariboo, Kamloops and southeast fire centres.

Volker Michelfelder of B.C. Parks said there are more than 165 sites and 41 trails closed in the three regions, and people are being warned to avoid visiting the remaining open sites in those areas altogether.

The Conservation Officer Service and other authorities will be increasing patrols at sites and in the backcountry to ensure public safety this weekend.

Last week alone, 37 tickets were issued to people violating bans and restrictions under the Wildfire Act.

As of Thursday, there were 150 wildfires burning across the province, contributing to a total of 1,161 fires this season.

With files from the Canadian Press