(Black Press Media Creative)

11,000 lightning strikes spark nearly 100 new fires: BC Wildfire Service

188 active fires burning in province, 6 considered fires of note

Thousands of lightning strikes are to blame for a sudden uptick in wildfire activity in B.C., according to the province’s wildfire service.

From Friday (Aug. 19) to Saturday (Aug. 20), BC Wildfire Service says 11,000 lightning bolts hit the ground across the province, igniting 98 wildfires and doubling the total number burning in B.C.

As of Sunday, there are 188 active wildfires in B.C., 79.8 per cent of which are believed to be lightning-caused. Another eight per cent were caused by people, while the start of the remaining 12.2 per cent is unknown.

The vast majority of fires (73) are burning in the southeast, with another 32 in the Kamloops region, 25 around Prince George, 23 along the coast, 20 in the Cariboo region and 15 in the northwest.

Since the start of the year, BC Wildfire has recorded 999 wildfires, which have collectively burned nearly 38,000 hectares.

There are six wildfires currently considered of note, meaning they are particularly visible or pose a potential threat to the public. They include:

Keremeos Creek

Estimated fire size: 7,042 hectares

Location: 21 kilometres southwest of Penticton

Discovered: July 29

Cause: Under investigation

Wind and topography continue to drive fire behaviour at Keremeos Creek, according to BC Wildfire. It said the blaze grew 100 hectares on Saturday due to wind at high elevations and a couple planned ignitions.

The fire is stable along the western side of Highway 3A, but BC Wildfire says smoke will remain in the area.

Evacuation alerts are in effect.

There are 188 firefighters, 15 helicopters and 19 pieces of heavy equipment on scene.

Briggs Creek

Estimated fire size: 1,730 hectares

Location: 11.5 kilometres west of Kaslo

Discovered: Aug. 1

Cause: Lightning

Hot and dry weather continues to feed the Briggs Creek wildfire. Thunderstorms are forecast for Sunday afternoon and evening, although it’s unknown whether any rain will touch down on the fire itself.

An evacuation alert and area restriction are in effect on the region.

Fifty-three firefighters and one helicopter are on scene.

Connell Ridge

Estimated fire size: 1,712 hectares

Location: 23 kilometres south of Cranbrook

Discovered: Aug. 1

Cause: Lightning

Crews worked Sunday to attack hot spots in the fire, after an infrared scanning team identified the worst areas Saturday night.

An evacuation alert was rescinded Saturday afternoon, but an area restriction remains in place.

There are 84 firefighters on scene, along with 13 helicopters and 14 pieces of heavy equipment.

Cummings Creek

Estimated fire size: 52.6 hectares

Location: 5 kilometres west of Sparwood

Discovered: Aug. 3

Cause: Lightning

Crews returned to the relatively small wildfire Saturday to attack a few hot spots that popped up. Sprinkler systems and hose lay remain in place, and a remote camera is on site to notify BC Wildfire if in-person crews are required again.

An area restriction is in effect.

Weasel Creek

Estimated fire size: 648 hectares

Location: 2 kilometres west of Frozen Lake and 39 kilometres southeast of Baynes Lake

Discovered: Aug. 4

Cause: Lightning

Crews are setting up a new camp closer to the fire, to reduce drive time and allow firefighters to stay on scene longer. It’s expected to be ready by end of day Monday.

Heavy equipment crews are also working to build a bridge across the Couldrey Creek tributary to allow better access.

An area restriction is in place.

There are 94 firefighters on scene, along with 13 helicopters and 14 pieces of heavy equipment.

Mount Docking

Estimated fire size: 1,333 hectares

Location: 27 kilometres east of the Village of Radium Hot Springs

Discovered: July 30

Cause: Lightning

Fire behaviour decreased from Saturday morning into Sunday, but it continues to burn in steep, hard-to-reach areas.

An area restriction is in place.

There are 39 firefighters, one helicopter and two pieces of heavy equipment on scene.


@janeskrypnek
jane.skrypnek@blackpress.ca

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