Weekend rain wasn't enough to have long-term impact on B.C. wildfire situation, say officials
The rain seen in some areas of B.C. over the weekend wasn’t enough to have a long-term impact on the fire situation in the province, say officials.
The news came during an update on Tuesday, as officials shared information on how they're dealing with a historic season.
“The rain received over the weekend has curbed the fire behaviour,” said Rob Schweitzer, director of fire centre operations, BC Wildfire Service.
“However, the amount of rain was not enough to make any long-term impact and we'll see returns to those extremely dry conditions.”
Cooler temperatures are in the forecast for later this week, but wind is possible, and thunderstorms may hover over B.C.'s wildfire zones.
But there’s some good news too, Schweitzer said, and it’s thanks to B.C. residents remaining diligent and cautious.
“The vast majority of new fire starts over the long weekend were due to natural causes,” he said.
“Of the very small handful of human caused wildfires, all have been declared ... under control, or they're being held.”
There are currently 259 fires burning in the province, and it's been hovering in that range for the past week. Thirty-four of those fires are categorized as “wildfires of note.”
Officials say that as of Tuesday there are more than 4,500 properties on evacuation order and more than 21,000 that are on evacuation alert.
B.C. provincial health officer Dr. Bonnie Henry also spoke at Tuesday’s news conference and warned of the health impacts of wildfire smoke. Henry says to watch out for eye irritation, runny nose, sore throat, a mild cough, and a feeling of having phlegm in your throat.
“Wildfires can exacerbate some chronic conditions,” she said.
“Smoky air makes it harder for your lungs to get oxygen into your blood, and can cause irritation to the respiratory system, and also can lead to inflammation which can cause other symptoms.”
Wildfires have burned more than 5,500 square kilometres since April.
The impact of the fire is being noted hundreds of kilometres away. A blanket of smoke and haze has settled over much of the province, and air quality advisories are in place across B.C., including in Metro Vancouver.
Over the weekend, the massive White Rock Lake fire near Vernon grew even bigger, forcing more residents out of their homes.
The smoke from the fire is enough that it's impacting flights out of Kelowna as the fire's borders change.
Smoke is also posing serious health threats, and is creating more challenges for suppression efforts.
"Unfortunately this grounds our aircraft in many areas, really across the province," the BC Wildfire Service's Jean Strong said.
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