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B.C. wildfire season intensifies with 91 active blazes, 5 of note

Vast majority believed to be caused by lightning
Firefighters are battling 91 active fires in B.C. as of Aug. 3, including at Keremeos Creek near Penticton. Here, they work to implement small-scale planned ignitions along Highway 3A. (BC Wildfire Service/Twitter)

After a slow start to its wildfire season, B.C. is seeing dozens of blazes cropping up around the province, with five in the south labeled as highly visible or potentially threatening.

As of Wednesday morning (Aug. 3), there are 91 active fires burning in B.C. Of them, the majority (29) are considered under control, 25 are new, 18 are being held in place, 14 are out of control, and five are being treated as a larger threat.

The vast majority (66) are believed to have been caused by lightning, while seven are human-caused and 18 are unknown.

READ ALSO: Officials turning to campfire bans as fire season heats up in B.C.

Regionally, the largest groupings of fires are in the Kamloops and Southeast regions. This is also where the five wildfires of note are burning. They include:

Keremeos Creek

Estimated fire size: 2,790 hectares

Location: 21 kilometres southwest of Penticton

Discovered: July 29

Cause: Under investigation

The fire has moved downslope toward Highway 3A Wednesday. A section of the roadway was forced to close Tuesday, but it has since reopened and crews are working to establish control lines along the north side of the highway.

The BC Wildfire Service is also prepping for some controlled ignitions in the area.

An evacuation order remains in effect for 324 properties in Electoral Areas I and G. Another 438 properties are under alert. BC Wildfire says they’ll protect structures as needed.

As of Wednesday, there are 252 firefighters in scene, supported by 10 helicopters and four pieces of heavy equipment.

READ ALSO: South Okanagan wildfire shows no growth, but hundreds remain under evacuation orders

Maria Creek

Estimated fire size: 1,004 hectares

Location: 6 kilometres northeast of Pavilion

Discovered: July 31

Cause: Lightning

The fire is burning in old cut blocks, where fuels are patchy, but high temperatures, winds and dry conditions are stoking flames. On Tuesday it only grew 75 hectares, but winds forecast for Wednesday afternoon are expected to strengthen the fire.

Light rain is expected Wednesday night, before temperatures rise again on Friday. BC Wildfire says the heat is a serious safety concern for crews and is forcing them to take frequent breaks.

There are no current impacts to Highway 97 or 99. Smoke may be visible from Clinton, Cache Creek and surrounding areas.

READ ALSO: Lightning strike causes fire of note in Maria Creek

Nohomin Creek

Estimated fire size: 3,700 hectares

Location: 1.7 kilometres northwest of Lytton

Discovered: July 14

Cause: Under investigation, suspected human-caused

The wildfire grew about 500 hectares Tuesday, heading upslope north of the Stein River, and away from any surrounding communities. BC Wildfire says the most active areas are in the northwest on steep cliffs and rocky areas that ground crews can’t access. Further growth is expected there Wednesday.

Highway 1 and 12 remain open. Highly visible smoke is likely in surrounding communities.

There are 65 firefighters and 10 helicopters battling the fire.

READ ALSO: Nohomin Creek wildfire fighters battle heat exhaustion as blaze slowly grows

Watching Creek

Estimated fire size: 195 hectares

Location: 16 kilometres northwest of Kamloops

Discovered: July 29

Cause: Suspected lightning

An evacuation alert issued Monday remains in place for properties in Electoral Area J and the Pass Lake recreation site is still closed Wednesday.

BC Wildfire service says the fire is burning in steep terrain making it difficult to attack, but that cooler weather and higher humidity Wednesday are expected to reduce activity.

Smoke will likely remain visible from Kamloops and nearby communities in the coming days.

Twenty firefighters are on scene, aided by six helicopters and 10 pieces of heavy equipment.

READ ALSO: Fire northwest of Kamloops upgraded to ‘fire of note’

Briggs Creek

Estimated fire size: 1,500 hectares

Location: 11.5 kilometres west of Kaslo

Discovered: Aug. 1

Cause: Lightning

BC Wildfire says the fire is burning in steep, inoperable terrain, but isn’t threatening any nearby properties. Instead, it’s moving toward Kokanee Glacier Park.

Still, the regional district has issued an evacuation alert for 14 area properties.

There are 29 firefighters on scene as of Wednesday.

About the Author: Jane Skrypnek

I'm a provincial reporter for Black Press Media.
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