Heat and wind whip up 400 blazes across B.C.
Published Saturday, August 29, 2009 6:59PM PDT
Heat and wind have whipped up 432 blazes across British Columbia, and almost half of them are burning in the Kamloops region.
Fire officials say they are not expecting to get much help from the weather this weekend.
"It's a warming and drying (weather) pattern and the fine fuels on the forest floor are very dry and so that makes it very likely new fires will start," said Isabelle Jacques, a fire information officer with the B.C. Forest Service.
About 30 per cent of the province remains under extreme fire danger.
B.C. Forests Minister Pat Bell issued a news release Friday afternoon warning of high temperatures, low humidity, and lightning.
"We are asking the public to be extremely cautious over the next few days," Bell said.
"There is a high likelihood that we will see new lightning-caused fires arise in the southern portion of the province and that existing fires will begin to exhibit extreme fire behaviour."
Bell said British Columbians are encouraged to avoid entering the backcountry in areas under fire warning and stressed the importance of avoiding remote places with poor access.
Campfire bans are in effect for much of the province. Those who violate the ban face fines of up to $345.
Here's a synopsis of the major fires:
The Martin Mountain fire is a fast-moving "high priority" blaze that has scorched about 1,400 hectares east of Kamloops, near the town of Pritchard.
The fire forced about 100 people from their homes early Friday morning. As it continued to spread Friday night, residents from an additional 125 homes were forced to evacuate.
The fire is 0 percent contained. Officials have not yet identified a cause.
Elise Riedlinger, a fire information officer, said the Martin Mountain fire had been smoldering for a few days but high winds took it out of control late Thursday.
Seventy firefighters and four helicopters are currently tackling the blaze.
The Community Lake Plateau fire between Kamloops and the Sun Peaks ski resort has grown to about 200 hectares.
Peter Milobar, chair of the Thompson-Nicola Regional District, said residents from 100 to 150 homes are under an evacuation order.
The fire was first discovered on Aug. 20 and is believed to be about 20 per cent guarded. Its cause is still under investigation.
Fifty firefighters and three helicopters have been assigned to the blaze.
The Notch Hill fire just south of Sorrento is about 1,600 hectares and 25 percent contained.
There are 142 firefighters and 11 helicopters battling the blaze. Lightning sparked the fire.
The Kelly Creek blaze, near Clinton in the province's Cariboo region, has grown to 16,000 hectares and is 0 percent contained.
The fire was caused by a lightning strike and was first discovered Aug. 1.
Seventy-seven firefighters and 13 helicopters are working on the fire.
Updates on all the fires can be found at www.bcwildfire.ca.
With files from CTV British Columbia's Peter Grainger and The Canadian Press