B.C. Wildfires 2018: Province calls for federal aid

More fires have burned in B.C. already this year than did in all of 2017

More than 287,000 hectares of B.C. forests have burned so far this year, with 36 new fires sparked on Sunday alone.

According to the BC Wildfire Service, 31 of the new fires are lighting-caused, while five are considered human-caused.

In a Monday afternoon update, the province said 27 evacuation orders are currently in effect for approximately 3,100 people, and 43 evacuation alerts affecting approximately 17,900 people.

Public Safety Minister Mike Farnworth said B.C. is requesting 200 more crew members, as well as aircraft to fight the fires and help get residents out, from the federal government.

Almost 3,500 personnel are currently fighting wildfires in B.C. Nearly 1,800 wildfires have started across the province so far this year – already 500 more than in all of last year.

Northwest Fire Centre

No new fires started overnight in the Northwest Fire Centre. So far this season, 141 wildfires have razed 111,017 hectares in the area.

There are currently 323 firefighters battling eight fires of note in the region, including a 31,110-hectare fire near Telegraph Creek that has already destroyed 27 structures.

BC Wildfire said multiple controlled burns have been carried out to get rid of pockets of unlit fuels.

The province said 147 firefighters, 11 helicopters and 20 pieces of heavy equipment are currently fighting the lightning-caused blaze.

Another wildfire near Burns Lake is just five kilometres away from the fibre-optics cable that provides northwest B.C.’s internet services.

However, CityWest representatives say they’re not concerned about it because of the current winds.

Cariboo Fire Centre

Five new lightning-caused wildfires are burning in the Cariboo region as of Monday morning. That makes for a total of 292 fires in the fire centre to date, with nine of note at present.

Emergency Management BC said four evacuation orders and seven alerts are in place.

READ MORE: 24 active fires in 100 Mile Fire Zone as of Aug. 13

The biggest in the region is the Shag Creek wildfire, which was caused by lightning north Itcha Ilgachuz Park.

BC Wildfire Service has pulled all crews off this fire because of current and expected fire behaviour and will continue to monitor it.

More than 900 properties remain evacuated as a result of the Blackwater fire, burning 72 kilometres west of Quesnel.

The Wild Goose Lake Fire, west of Meadow Lake and the community of Clinton, is estimated at 7,228 hectares and is 40-per-cent contained. An evacuation alert and order are in effect for properties surrounding the Wild Goose Lakes by the Thompson Nicola and Cariboo regional districts.

Prince George Fire Centre

No new wildfires were started in the Prince George Fire Centre on Sunday, but five wildfires of note are still burning there.

The biggest blaze is the Hugh Allen Creek fire, which sits at 10,000 hectares with no crews on site, but is not threatening any communities.

The 1,457-hectare Purvis Lake fire, 20 kilometres east of Takla Lake, isn’t threatening any structures either, but has led to road closures and an evacuation order in parts of the Regional District of Bulkley-Nechako.

Nation Lakes Park is also partially closed as a result.

Coastal Fire Centre

Twelve new fires – one human-caused, the rest lighting-caused – started overnight in the Coastal Fire Centre.

More than 200 fires have burned in the area so far this year, the biggest being the Nanaimo Lakes fires in central Vancouver Island, 13 kilometres southwest of Nanaimo and 50-per-cent contained.

Evacuation orders and alerts for the 182-hectare blaze have been rescinded, and officials said the side of the fire facing homes has been contained.

There are 34 firefighters, two helicopters and six pieces of human equipment fighting the human-caused fire.

The only other fire of note is the Mt. Hicks fire, 10 kilometres north of Agassiz.

Last weekend’s rain did little to slow the flames, which has led to partial closures of Highway 7 and the full closure and evacuation of Sasquatch Provincial Park.

There are 34 firefighters and five helicopters struggling against the 150-hectare fire.

An air quality advisory was issued for the Lower Mainland on Monday. One has been in effect for Vancouver Island for days.

Southeast Fire Centre

The Southeast Fire Centre has the most major wildfires of any region in B.C., though with the least hectares burned, and 15 wildfires of note.

A total of 19 fires, 15 of them lightning-caused, ignited overnight.

Few evacuation orders are in effect, but the McArthur Creek Wildfire south of Salmo and the Toronto Creek wildfire north of Grand Forks have led to evacuations.

The organizers of the Shambhala Music Festival, which takes place in Salmo, avoided a repeat of last year when organizers and emergency personnel clashed over whether to close the festival because of wildfire risk.

Kamloops Fire Centre

Six fires of note are active across the Kamloops Fire Centre, adding to the 355 wildfires that have started in the area so far this year. No new wildfires were recorded overnight.

The 817-hectare Juliet Creek fire has sparked an evacuation order for the Murray Lakes area, as 21 personnel, 10 pieces of heavy equipment and two water tenders fight the lightning-caused fire.

READ MORE: Monashee complex wildfire update

The 730-hectare Gottfriedsen fire, burning 24 kilometres west of West Kelowna and about eight kilometres north of Highway 97C, has led to evacuation alerts for area campsites and properties.

The biggest fire remains the 13,359-hectare Snowy Mountain fire. Nearly 100 firefighters are battling the out-of-control blaze, but officials said the steep terrain is “inoperable” in some areas, and poses a safety risk to crews.

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