Officials ask Albertans to be cautious as crews battle 300 wildfires in B.C.

Fire officials in Alberta are keeping a close eye on conditions in British Columbia where there are more than 300 active wildfires.

'So far we have dodged the bullet ... but the potential is there,' Alberta expert says

The BC Wildfire Service set a controlled burn on July 5 in an attempt to head off the Deka Lake wildfire in the Cariboo region. Firefighters are battling hundreds of wildfires in the province and the summer forecast means more are likely to ignite. (BC Wildfire Service)

Fire officials in Alberta are keeping a close eye on conditions in British Columbia where there are more than 300 active wildfires.

The wildfire risk across most of B.C. is ranked high or extreme and Environment Canada has issued another round of heat warnings for parts of the central and southern Interior, including the region where crews are still battling the fire that levelled the village of Lytton on June 30.

However the situation in Alberta isn't nearly as drastic, says Thompson Rivers University wildfire researcher Mike Flannigan.

"So far, we have dodged the bullet and our fire season isn't too bad. But the potential is there," he said.

B.C.'s wildfire service says the Thomas Creek Wildfire near Skaha Lake is one of many fires classified as "out of control" in the province on Sunday. (B.C. Wildfire Service)

In Alberta, wildfire officials say there were 86 wildfires burning in forest protection areas across Alberta as of early Monday — with most in northern and north-central parts of the province.

Three were out of control, 36 were being held and 46 were under control.

The current fire danger ranges from very high across parts of northern Alberta to low in forested areas west of Calgary, according to Alberta wildfire information officer Derrick Forsythe.

He says recent rain has helped, but that the risk can always change.

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With at least 300 wildfires burning throughout British Columbia, residents are on edge about whether they may need to flee at a moment’s notice.

"Warming temperatures and wind, it could revert back to a place where we're going to have to be really, really careful," he said. 

Officials are urging Albertans to exercise fire safety in the days and weeks ahead in all areas across the province.

Meanwhile in B.C.,173 of the more than 300 active wildfires were sparked since Friday, roughly two thirds by lightning, officials said.

Twenty-five fires are ranked as especially threatening or visible. Those fires include the newly spawned Okanagan Falls fire; the devastating fire that destroyed the village of Lytton; and another north of Kamloops that has scorched 402 square kilometres of bush in just two weeks.

The province has seen 987 wildfires this year with more than 1,540 square kilometres of land charred, and of that about 1,500 square kilometres is still burning, said BC Wildfire Service information officer Taylor Colman.

"It's significantly more than what we consider the average," she said.

With files from Dave Gilson and The Canadian Press


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