British Columbia

Special weather statement for B.C. Interior warns of wind and thunderstorms

Officials are concerned that windy, dry conditions could cause several large fires burning in B.C. to grow.

Fire crews are concerned weekend weather conditions could exacerbate firefighting efforts

Smoke is seen rising in front of the sun as a wildfire burns near Little Fort, B.C. (Jonathan Hayward/THE CANADIAN PRESS)

Environment Canada has issued a special weather statement for the B.C. Interior, warning that a cold front developing Friday is expected to bring strong winds of up to 60 kilometres per hour.

Isolated thundershowers with gusts of up to 80 kilometres per hour are also expected for the central Interior, Columbia region, and South Thompson and Shuswap areas on Friday afternoon and evening.

According to the B.C. Wildfire Service, fire crews are concerned that strong winds without substantial rain will fuel the many fires burning throughout the region. 

They're particularly concerned about the Hanceville-Riske Creek fire and the Elephant Hill fire, which haven't experienced significant growth since Wednesday.

A risk of thunderstorms into the weekend could also bring lightning, which can set off more fires, particularly in extremely dry parts of the province.

State of emergency set to expire

The state of emergency declared in response to the wildfires is set to expire today unless officials choose to extend it.

Robert Turner with Emergency Management B.C. said that officials met on Thursday to discuss the potential of an extension.

The state of emergency was originally called on July 7, when a number of fires were sparked and burned out of control.

Evacuation orders expanded

The Cariboo Regional District has expanded two evacuation orders — one for an area north of Kleena Kleene, and one for an area east of Nazko.

Due to immediate danger, members of the RCMP or other groups are assisting with the evacuations.

There are currently 27 evacuation orders and 41 evacuation alerts in effect across B.C. 

On Wednesday, 2017 officially became the worst year on record in terms of hectares burnt, passing a record set in 1958.

With files from the Canadian Press