British Columbia

What you need to know about B.C. wildfires for Aug. 15

The province says the next 72 hours will be critical, and residents in fire zones should be prepared for more evacuation orders and alerts.

Fire officials say the next 72 hours could be critical in spreading the flames

Thick smoke from the White Rock Lake wildfire fills the air and nearly blocks out the sun just after 3 p.m. as a motorist travels on Highway 97 in Monte Lake, east of Kamloops, B.C., on Saturday. (The Canadian Press/Darryl Dyck)

The latest evacuation orders and alerts:

The B.C. Wildfire Service says gusty winds Sunday evening were fanning the flames of several wildfires near Kamloops, prompting several new evacuation orders and alerts. 

On Sunday, the wildfire service said it was expecting current wildfires of note in B.C. to show "extreme fire behaviour" in the next 24 hours and high rates of spread. 

"Now is the time to make sure your emergency plan is in place," the service said on Twitter. 

Aggressive fire behaviour on the Tremont Creek Wildfire Sunday prompted an Evacuation Order in parts of Cherry creek and an Evacuation Alert for 734 properties west of Kamloops,

"We have had very significant winds out there today as the cold front was passing through so those winds have really driven some movement of that fire today," said Fire Information Officer Erin Bull.

On Saturday, fire information officer Erika Berg said the shift in temperatures is forecast to start on Sunday evening, possibly also bringing pyrocumulonimbus clouds in the southern region. These towering cloud formations can cause their own weather systems including an increase in lightning.

Berg said thunderstorms are most likely to be seen in northern British Columbia, including the Fort Nelson and Caribou fire centres, with a chance of lightning strikes which can potentially cause more wildfires.

The service says it has been conducting prescribed burns on some of the larger blazes such as the White Rock Lake, Tremont Creek and Flat Lake wildfires to prepare for a potential increase in lightning strikes.

B.C. currently has nearly 270 active wildfires and more than 6,700 square kilometres of land scorched by blazes.

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If you've been affected by the B.C. wildfires and want to share your story, email us at cbcnewsvancouver@cbc.ca

With files from Rachel Adams and the Canadian Press

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