More than 300 wildfires ravage B.C. Interior
Evacuation orders and alerts, as well as campfire bans, are in effect across the B.C. Interior this weekend as crews struggle to contain more than 300 wildfires.
One raging fire near Dog Creek, about 40 kilometres south of Williams Lake, has spread across 1.8 kilometres. Around 15 per cent of the blaze was contained.
The Cariboo and Kamloops Fire Centres has issued evacuation orders or alerts for six areas.
Kim Steinbart, a provincial fire information officer, said weather conditions are expected to be hot and dry for another week, boosting the threat of strong winds and lightning that could make the situation worse.
"The temperature and the low humidity is certainly a challenge, and that's been the situation for a little while" she told CTV News Channel. "Things are extremely dry."
Around 70 per cent of the province is under a campfire ban, under the threat of fines ranging from $345 to $1 million and as much as three years in prison.
The province's Ministry of Forests and Range said more than 150 workers will be patrolling parks and campgrounds to enforce the ban.
"With all the lightning-caused wildfire activity we're seeing, we can't afford to have our firefighting resources diverted by preventable fires," said Forests and Range Minister Pat Bell.
At the Dog Creek fire, crews were trying to create a fire guard on the blaze's south end, while helicopters dropped water along the fire's perimeter, according to B.C.'s Wildfire Management Branch.
Approximately 1,000 firefighters were trying to contain burning woodlands across the province.
Afternoon winds and heavy smoke in some areas were causing problems for firefighters, Steinbart said, and out-of-province crews may need to be brought in to ensure that those battling the fires receive enough rest.
"We are considering bringing in resources from other areas of the country," she said. "We have been in discussion with those other agencies in case we do need to go that route."
About 170 new fires began on Thursday alone, as a violent lightning storm swept across the region.
"The conditions are ripe for those lightning starts to ignite fires and we've experienced over 200 in the province since Monday," said Bruce Young, fire operations manager for the Provincial Wildfire Coordination Centre.
In Vancouver, the city's Board of Parks and Recreation elevated the fire hazard rating for Vancouver parks to extreme on Saturday following several weeks of warm, dry weather.
As of Saturday, smoking is banned in city parks and on trails, while charcoal and wood-burning barbecues are also banned. Campfires are not permitted in city parks or beaches, and residents must also remain on park trails.
With reports from CTV British Columbia's Jim Beatty and Bal Brach, and files from The Canadian Press