Today marks the one month anniversary of the explosion of wildfires that have ravaged the Interior of BC, including the Elephant Hill fire.
Kevin Skrepnek with the BC Wildfire Service says it is an auspicious day, recalling how everything came to a head.
” In terms of an unusually dry June going into July and then obviously a significant lightning system that set off many of these fires.”
Skrepnek says as far as progress goes, a lot of it is going to be dependent on the weather.
“This is, although not necessarily man made in some cases, this is a natural disaster and unfortunately it’s going to be natural factors that are going to decide when a lot of these fire really start to calm down.”
He says a lot of people are out there doing what they can to keep people out of harms way.
Skrepnek says everything is being done to contain them and put in contingency lines and steer them away from communities and infrastructure.
Roughly 3800 personnel are fighting 130 fires that were burning in the province as of yesterday.
There have been 904 fires since April 1st across BC.
Those fires have burned 578 thousand hectares.
That number is lower than was estimated Sunday, due to better mapping, primarily in the Cariboo region.
That number is expected to fluctuate and go up as the season progresses.
BC has spent an estimated 234 million dollars fighting fires so far this year.
The number of people in BC still on evacuation order is approximately 6900.
The number on alert is roughly 26 thousand, 700.
Hot and dry conditions are expected to persist for the next few days.
Isolated thundershowers are expected in the northeast and far southeast of BC.
There is a small chance of lightning with that.
The wildfire service doesn’t expect much of a change through to Thursday.
A bit of a shift is expected Friday.
Kevin Skrepnek says that could be both good and bad with a return of an inflow wind pattern.
“So that’s wind coming from the coast into the province through a lot of our valleys. but it is likely going to come with an increase in wind across the board, and of course wind has been just such a huge challenge for us already.”
Taking a further look ahead to the weekend, models are coming in that suggest a low pressure system is coming with lower temperatures and spotty showers.
The other side of that is the system is going to bring gusty winds and an increased chance of thundershowers and lightning.
Skrepnek is still urging everyone to be vigilant and be mindful of the campfire ban to much of the province and the off-road ban in the Kamloops, Cariboo and Southeast fire zones.
He says those will be monitored to see if those restrictions need to be expanded or if broader closures of the back country are required.
On another matter, Kevin Skrepnek confirms the Wildfire Service has been in contact with a couple of ranchers demanding compensation for losses they claim are due to a back burn by firefighters that got away from them.
“We’ve already contacted them to start that process. There is a mechanism within the Wildfire Act and Regulation around people looking for compensation to damage to private land. So, that is in the works right now.”
More information will be available this week from the Ministry of Agriculture.
Meanwhile, the RCMP confirms it has enhanced police visibility in the Cariboo-Chilcotin area.
That is to be able to react as quickly as possible when future evacuation orders and alerts are issued.
Two highways remain closed due to the proximity of wildfires.
Highway 97 is closed between Highway 24 south of One Hundred Mile House and Highway 99 north of Cache Creek.
Highway 99 is also closed north of Cache Creek between Highway 97 and Marble Canyon Provincial Park.
A wildfire in the eastern portion of Glacier Park between Revelstoke and Golden is creating smoky conditions impacting Highway One.
Parks Canada has implemented traffic control but may close the highway if conditions worsen.