Province’s fire centre issues updates on wildfires

KAMLOOPS, B.C. — The Province’s Chief Fire Officer says more resources are on their way to the Peace region to help out amidst the fires.

Kevin Skrepnek says over 200 personnel are either on the ground or in coordination centres in the Peace region.

“We are bringing additional resources into the area,” he said. “We’ve been bringing them in from elsewhere in the province.”

He says there have been 143 fires to date throughout B.C., most human caused. Skrepnek says it’s not unusual to see so many human-caused fires, since lightning is so rare this time of year — but the number is certainly above average.

In the conference call on Wednesday, it was confirmed that there have been 20 new fires since yesterday in B.C., with 14 of those are fires over 100 hectares in northeastern B.C.

An air tanker fleet has been brought online early, with one group being fire-ready by this afternoon in Fort St. John. Another group will be active in Prince George and a last group in Williams Lake by next week.

The largest one is the Beatton Airport Road fire, which is an estimated 5,500 hectares in size. He said that it was his understanding that crews were on the ground fighting this fire, and that they require a different tactical approach.

“We’re going to have to be looking at options out there for what we can do to stem its growth and make sure that we’re protecting values out there,” he said.

Fires of that size, you need to do planned ignition operations — i.e., fighting fire with fire. It also depends on the terrain in the area, the fuel it’s burning, and fire breaks.

Skrepnek said the likely cause was winds of up to 90 kilometres an hour, and the highs of 28 degrees.

“Things have become a lot more seasonal since then, the weather has been much more favourable today and to a much less degree yesterday as well,” he said. The wind is still concerning, he said, but not as much as it was on Monday.

Chris Duffy, executive director of Emergency Management BC, confirmed that at least one home have been lost in these fires, including one in Kelly Lake and an unspecific structure near the Alberta border.

No evacuation orders are in place at this time, but five evacuation alerts are in place — in Charlie Lake, Baldonnel, South Taylor Hill, Beatton Airport Road, and Hudson’s Hope. In total, it’s estimated about 450 homes are at risk in these evacuation alerts.

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