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BC Wildfire Service expecting less wind over the next few days

Province says daily ignition numbers have subsided.
firefighters
Out-of-province firefighting personnel are once again helping B.C. this wildfire season.

UPDATE: 3:48 p.m.

Although temperatures are forecast to rise, the BC Wildfire Service says less wind is expected over the next few days, bringing some good news to crews fighting fires in B.C.’s unprecedented wildfire season.

In a news conference hosted Tuesday by the provincial government, Rob Schweitzer, director of fire centre operations for BC Wildfire Service, said a more stable weather pattern means large fires will continue to burn steadily, but potentially with less aggression.

“We won't have that impact of significant wind driven events with aggressive fire growth, so it will help us make progress on some of those suppression efforts,” Schweitzer said.

He said although a stable weather pattern will be helpful for fire crews, they also expect an increase in smoke to come along with the warm weather — with temperatures that could reach into the upper 30s.

“The wind is actually our biggest enemy. In this case, even though we do not welcome the hot temperatures and low humidity, it's the wind that we’re really concerned about,” Schweitzer said.

“Our intelligence right now is telling us that we shouldn't see a significant wind event for the next few days, but we will see those higher temperatures.”

Since April 1, Schweitzer said, the BC Wildfire Service has responded to 1,230 wildfires — about double the average number.

About 425,000 hectares have burned.

The 10-year average of fire starts for this time of the year is 642, with 105,000 hectares burned.

“We’re significantly ahead of the 10 year average,” Schweitzer said.

Schweitzer said they have seen daily ignition numbers subside, mostly due to a lack of lightning recently.

With the high number of fires, “resource management remains a top priority.”

“We will make sure that our crews and our partners are rested appropriately, as this will be a long season,” Schweitzer said.

“We'll continue to procure those domestic and international firefighting resources, and that will remain a focus.”

Schweitzer said there are 3,650 personnel fighting wildfires across B.C., including 1,100 contractors and 318 out-of-province crew members.

There are nearly 200 aircraft assigned to fires.

Padar Brach, Emergency Management BC’s executive director of regional operations, provided an update on evacuation orders and alerts in place throughout the province.

Brach said 61 evacuation orders have been issued, representing about 3,700 properties.

Approximately 18,000 properties across the province have been put on evacuation alert.

Over 5,000 evacuees have been registered in reception centres.

Brach said those hoping to assist evacuees are asked to make a monetary donation to organizations such as the Canadian Red Cross, United Way or Food Banks B.C.

“Cash is the most effective way to help those affected by wildfires,” Brach said, adding that people should avoid making donations of physical goods unless a community has asked for specific items.

Brach also urged travellers who may have booked holidays in areas impacted by an evacuation alert to rebook their trips.

“British Columbia is a very large and diverse province, and there are many areas that are not directly impacted by wildfires and open for business,” Brach said.


ORIGINAL: 2:13 p.m.

The number of wildfire starts through the fire season is significantly ahead of the 10-year average, according to the BC Wildfire Service.

In an information session hosted by the provincial government, Rob Schweitzer, director of fire centre operations, said the BC Wildfire Service has responded to 1,230 wildfires since April 1 — the start of the fire season.

The 10-year average of fire starts is 642.

Schweitzer said they have seen daily ignition numbers subside, mostly due to a lack of lightning recently.

Further updates from Emergency Management BC, RCMP and Dr. Bonnie Henry, provincial health officer, are expected.

This story will be updated as more information becomes available.