A helicopter sprays the wildfire in Princeton. A helicopter sprays the wildfire in Princeton. (Black Press)

Wildfires burn 78,000 hectares across B.C.

Rate of new fires slowing down

As of Wednesday afternoon, there were 36 fewer wildfires burning across B.C. compared to yesterday, according to chief fire information officer Kevin Skrepnek.

Crews have been able to better map the fire borders today, Skrepnek said, leading to the apparent growth in hectares burned.

RELATED: Interactive map paints B.C. wildfire picture

The outlook province-wide is better today than it was yesterday, Skrepnek noted. There are 183 fires burning in B.C. today, down from 219 yesterday. In total, there have been 602 fires since April 1; 12 of those started today.

“Yesterday was a good day compared to what we’ve been seeing,” said Skrepnek. “Going into this weekend there is a potential for some gusty winds. We are keeping a close eye on that.”

RELATED: Surrey firefighters arrive in Williams Lake today to battle wildfires

Skrepnek said that while firefighters have been making progress against the flames blanketing B.C., they are pacing themselves for a potentially long fire season.

Crews are in a good place right now but it is only July 12,” said Skrepnek. “We’re currently at 300 [out-of-province] personnel right now.”

VIDEO: Devastating footage from Boston Flats

There are 37 fixed wing aircraft currently in the BC Wildfire Service fleet, including 13 additional aircraft the service has brought in, and approximately 200 helicopters.

There are no plans to hire the Hawaii Mars for this firefighting season, Skrepnek noted.

“There are simply more effective aircraft that are available,” he said.

RELATED: Province says no to Hawaii Mars

Speaking to the photos on social media showing firefighters at a campfire despite the campfire zone, Skrepnek said that the issue will be investigated.

“We are aware of those images,” Skrepnek said. “The ministry is taking the matter very seriously.”

Emergency Management BC deputy minister Robert Turner said that 7,886 people have registered at local emergency social services centres and 3,500 are taking advantage of the emergency lodging available.

Hot, dry and windy weather continues to be expected across the B.C. interior, Skrepnek noted and out-of-province firefighters have been added to beef up B.C.’s ranks. Turner said that 150 fire departments from across B.C. have offered their help and a total of 22 have been deployed. Canadian Forces personnel are on standby but Turner said that they will be a “last resort.”

RELATED: Seven days is a “Disneyland suggestion” for returning home

While much of the wildfire zone remains smoky, BC Centre for Disease Control data shows that the air quality has improved somewhat.

It’s the first time we’ve seen blue skies [in Kamloops] in a few days,” said Skrepnek.

“[The smoke]hasn’t been a significant hindrance,” said Skrepnek. “It was never to the point where the [Kamloops] airport has been closed down.”

RCMP officers from all around the province are being deployed to the southeast and north districts, Sgt. Annie Linteau said.

“Those officers are there to supplement the officers already there on the ground,” said Linteau, adding that the redistribution of officers won’t affect policing in other areas of B.C.

“As of yesterday, there had been 300 additional members that had or will be deployed.”

On Wednesday, RCMP officers from Alberta have also been sent to help out.

RELATED: Break and enter arrest made in 100 Mile evacuation area

Speaking to the incidents of looting that have been reported upon, Linteau said the RCMP are monitoring those closely.

“I can confirm that those incidents are somewhat isolated,” said Linteau. “We invite anyone who sees suspicious activity to phone their local police detachment immediately.”


@katslepian

katya.slepian@bpdigital.ca

Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter.

Just Posted

Emil Anderson earns multiple provincial contractor awards

Family-run companies with a long history in the FV were recognized for excellence in grading and community service

Chilliwack Chiefs lead Team Canada West into WJAC final

Harrison Blaisdell picked up an assist in a 5-1 semi-final win over the Czech Republic Thursday.

Column: Mainland mayhem possible in BCHL stretch run

Jacob Bestebroer breaks down the schedules of the Mainland division’s four playoff contenders.

#MeToo at work: How reporting sexual harassment works – and how it doesn’t

British Columbians have four options to report harassment or assault, but none of them are easy

Military life gives way to chance as author

Retired Chilliwack officer pens book about life in Afghanistan

VIDEO: Pedestrian struck by vehicle downtown Chilliwack caught on security camera

Incident points to danger on the roads not only in low light but also in bright sunshine

Accused B.C. drug smuggler to be extradited

Supreme Court of Canada upholds extradition order for accused Shuswap drug smuggler, Colin Martin

One convicted, two cleared in 2014 deaths of men in B.C.’s Cariboo

Andrew Jongbloets convicted of manslaughter in deaths of Matthew Hennigar, 23 and Kalvin Andy, 22

AHUS patient Shantee Anaquod is home for Christmas

Less than a month after receiving first dose of $750K drug, 23 year old healthy enough to go home

Firefighter dies, thousands more take on California blaze

This is second death linked to the Thomas fire, northwest of Los Angeles

Moose calves rescued in northern B.C. are ‘golden nuggets:’ researcher

Calves discovered near Prince George in late May. Mother had been killed by a car

Missing Alberta man could be headed to Victoria

Police in Alberta say Vernon “Allan” Pickard has not been heard from since late November

Supreme Court rules in case involving Langley firm

The case involved two people working for separate contractors on a Delta road project.

The Force will be with bidders at massive Stars Wars auction

Able Auctions at 19757 92A Ave. hosts event that’s open to public Saturday

Most Read