B.C. fire count grows to 250 despite weekend rain
Published Sunday, July 12, 2015 5:42PM PDT Last Updated Friday, July 17, 2015 8:57AM PDT
It’s another weekend, another 120 new fires for British Columbia – bringing the total number of active blazes in the province to 250.
An estimated total of 283,430 hectares have burned across the province since April, according to BC Wildfire Services – an area nearly the size of Metro Vancouver.
Cooler temperatures and wetter weather are helping firefighters, says Kevin Skrepnek, chief fire information officer at BC Wildfire Service, although lightning has been responsible for the majority of new blazes.
“Any help from the weather in terms of cooler temperatures and of course rain is going to be welcome,” says Skrepnek. “But it's important to note that it's still early in the summer. We still have another two months of fire season ahead of us, so this could very well be a temporary reprieve.”
Skrepnek says the Puntzi Lake fire, located about 180 kilometres west of Williams Lake in the Cariboo region, is now 8,000 hectares.
Some of the first aerial images of the fire were released by the Cariboo Regional District over the weekend. From the air the damage is clear: blackened forest, scorched earth, and piles of rubble where homes once stood.
“People’s homes for the most part are incinerated,” says Al Richmond, Cariboo Regional District chair. “If you look at the ground around it...you'll just see grey material. It just shows you the heat the fire has.”
On Monday, 50 firefighters from Australia will arrive in B.C. to help battle the blazes.
In Metro Vancouver, Delta recently lowered their fire danger from extreme to high.
However five parks, Boundary Bay Park Reserve, Watershed Park, Cougar Canyon Nature Reserve, North 40 Park Reserve, and Delta Nature Reserve, remain closed. Delta Council decides if the parks will re-open on Monday.
“We’re very worried still,” says Delta Fire Battalion Chief Mark Creer. “We have a little bit of rain and it is a little bit cooler…but the forecast later in the week is to return to higher temperatures.”
Some people have been issued fines for violating the park closures, but Creer says that the majority of residents have cooperated.
“There have been some infractions, but on the whole everyone’s behaved themselves and stayed out," he says. "We do daily patrols for all of our areas…we occasionally get some people, but mainly not knowing they shouldn't be there.”
Environment Canada recorded just 1.4 mm of rain for Vancouver on Saturday. More rain is in the forecast for Sunday evening, as well as later in the week.
With files from CTV’s Sheila Scott