UPDATE: BC Wildfires reports 188,000 hectares burned across the province

Josh Duncan | July 17, 2017 in Stuff That Matters

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(UPDATE: July 17th @ 1:30 p.m.)

As per BC Wildfire Services' daily conference call update, there is now a total of 159 wildfires burning across the B.C., with 17 new fires since yesterday.

While those numbers are slightly down from Saturday, of the 27 current wildfires of note, 15 are interface (fires that pose threats structures and communities).

Since April 1st, across B.C., there has been 657 wildfires covering an estimated 188,000 hectares across the province.

Public safety remains the first priority, followed by keeping highway routes open for evacuations.

BC Wildfire services has 3000 staff, 200 aircraft and a 1000 contractors currently fighting the fires.

(UPDATE: July 15th @ 3:00 p.m.) 

As per BC Wildfire Services' daily conference call update, there is now a total of 161 wildfires burning across the province, with 21 new fires since yesterday and a total of 14 on Friday.

While there are fewer new fires starting, the existing fires are already significant.

Since April 1st, across B.C., there has been 631 wildfires covering 128,000 hectares with a cost of $77M put towards suppression.

Public safety remains the first priority, followed by keeping highway routes open for evacuations.

There are currently 27 wildfires of note and 14 interface (fires that pose threats to communities).

Photo Credit: BC Wildfire

The Ashcroft wildfire saw explosive growth yesterday and is at 14,700 hectares. Smoke is visible from Kamloops.

The Princeton fire is at 3278 hectares and is 35% contained.

The Gustafsen fire is at 5000 hectares and is 20% contained.

The Wildwood fire is at 2500 hectares and is 40% contained.

There's a cluster of fires near Little Fort: The fire east of town, near Dunn Lake is at 1954 hectares, and is 20% contained. The Thuya Lake Road fire, west of town is 40% contained.

A complex of fires (multiple fires) in the Cariboo has reached about 40,000 hectares in size, near Hanceville. Difficult to determine due to smoke.

Photo Credit: BC Wildfire

Resources

As of Friday, 3052 personnel were working under BC Wildfire service, including other BC government employees.

There are about 400 out-of-province workers and about 1000 contractors from the forestry industry.

About 207 aircrafts are being utilized on Saturday, including air tankers and helicopters.

Weather challenges

The big challenge is wind over the next 24 hours.

Environment Canada is forecasting a cold front in the Cariboo Northeast and parts of Southern B.C. for this afternoon and overnight.

There's potential for lightning in Fort St. John and the Kootenays.

There's a 40% chance of lightening on the North side of the Cariboo and other parts of B.C.

Conditions are variable as forecasters are unsure if precipitation will come with the lightening or if it will be dry lightening.

Wind is a major concern for existing active fires in the Cariboo and Southern B.C. regions.

Wind speeds are expected to gust up to 50 km/hr and possible up to 70 km/hr in the Fraser Valley and Interior valleys.

These winds will make the fire behaviour even more "extreme and violently aggressive."

The message to the public is to stay out of harm's way and out of the backcountry.

BC Parks and Rec Sites have been closed in the Cariboo Region.

Evacuations

Evacuations have been ordered for Loon Lake, Loon Lake Road, Clinton, as well as areas around Clinton.

The fire is still quite active and it's the north flank that's growing (opposite side of Cache Creek).

There have been about 17,400 evacuees. Of those, about 6150 households have registered with the Canadian Red Cross, which equates to about 15,375 people.

By the end of Saturday, 5,114 households will receive their electronic fund transfers, which represents 83% of those registered.

The Red Cross has made big progress in the last 48 hours in getting people registered and getting them financial assistance.

The Canadian Armed Forces have been called in, requesting support through providing two aircrafts.

The aircrafts were deployed on Friday to move RCMP out to Loon Lake to help with evacuations.

On Saturday they’re looking at flying two First Nations communities in the Chilcotin area that are close to Highway 20.

The area is currently not under Evacuation Orders, but the road is closed, preventing residents from accessing supplies.

Photo Credit: BC Wildfire

Air Quality

Air quality conditions vary across the province.

Smoke is limited in Williams Lake.

Air quality is reasonably good in other places.

Recent reports came through on the BC Asthma Monitoring System (BCAMS).

It's been updated to Monday, July 10th, which was the smokiest day yet across B.C.

The results showed a doubling in the typical number of physician visits for asthma-related outcomes.

On a typical day in the Northern Interior, a physician might see 15, people, but instead saw 30.

A typical day in the Central Interior would amount to 30 asthma-related visits, but instead amounted to 65 on Monday.

There is an app available for both ISO and Android phones that provides air quality information for your area or where your friends and family live.

Search under AQHI Canada for the free app on air quality across Canada.

It will also send notifications of places where air quality becomes poor.

RCMP Investigation

The RCMP are investigating a situation in Quesnel where two men were impersonating police officers.

There are people taking advantage of the fire alerts and evacuations in Quesnel.

At least two men attended residences off Barkerville highway on HWY 26 near Quesnel saying they were fire officials and telling people to get out immediately.

They were dressed in police clothing with high visibility vests but didn't have identification.

They left in a black SUV.

The occupants were disturbed and by the incident and alerted the authorities.

RCMP are only attending homes in the fire evacuation zones.

The police conducting evacuation orders are dressed in full police uniform, carry police ID and have the official evacuation order to provide to residents.

If anyone comes to your residence and doesn’t have the above uniform, ID and official order, contact the RCMP immediately.

RCMP are continuing core functions in Quesnel.

RCMP are asking residents to be vigilant and call 250-992-9211 if they see anything alarming in that area.

(UPDATE: July 14th @ 3:00 p.m.) 

As per BC Wildfire Services' daily conference call update, there is now a total of 167 wildfires burning across the province, with 21 new fires since yesterday.

In total, 616 wildfires have started in 2017, burning 114,000 hectares of land and costing $73 million.

Of the 22 current wildfires of note, 14 are interface fires meaning they are threatening structures. 

The Ashcroft wildfire now sits at 11,500 hectares with zero percent containment.

The Princeton wildfire sits at 2,700 hectares and 10% containment.

The Gustafson fire is now 5,000 hectares with 20% containment. 

A total of 3000 personnel are currently fighting the fires across the province, with the aid of 1000 separate contractors and with 200 aircraft currently deployed.

Environment Canada is predicting a cold front to move through B.C., bringing with it stronger winds and a chance of lightning in the Fort St. John region.

The full list has been updated at the bottom of this story.

(Original story: July 13th @ 10:30 a.m.) - Since April 1st, there have been more than 600 fires across B.C. that have burned 111,285 hectares of land.

While the hundreds of fires help bring up that 111,285 number, the majority of the damage has been done through bigger fires or wildfires of note.

Photo Credit: @zach.herrick on Instagram

Currently, there are 22 wildfires of note in B.C. including 11 in the Cariboo Fire Centre, five in the Prince George Fire Centre, four in the Kamloops Fire Centre and two in the Coastal Fire Centre.

We're currently covering the AshcroftPrinceton and Gustafsen fires with individual stories. 

You can view all of B.C.’s active wildfires on an interactive map of the province, but here are the 22 wildfires of note in list form.

Click on the name of the fire for further information from the BC Wildfire Service website.

KAMLOOPS FIRE CENTRE

CARIBOO FIRE CENTRE

PRINCE GEORGE FIRE CENTRE

COASTAL FIRE CENTRE

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