Weather will play a critical role in how the fire fight in parts of BC will go this weekend.
Lower temperatures are expected with scattered showers in the Interior of British Columbia.
With that comes the possibility of thundershowers accompanied by lightning.
Gusty winds are also expected in some areas over the next 24 to 48 hours.
It’s that instability that is creating some uncertainty.
As of today, there are 140 fires burning across the province, including 9 that started yesterday.
The total number of fires since April 1st is 975, which have covered about 651 thousand hectares, which is more than twice the size of Greater Vancouver, including the north shore and out to Aldergrove and Maple Ridge.
The cost of fighting the fires has reached 277.7 million dollars.
There are 31 evacuation orders in place across the province affecting six thousand 402 people and 41 evacuation alerts for roughly 27 thousand people.
Wind played a role Friday in increasing the Elephant Hill wildfire burning near Ashcroft.
It is now about 124 thousand 843 hectares in size.
Five hundred and 74 fire fighting personnel continue to work on that fire with air support and heavy equipment.
Meanwhile, an evacuation order has been issued for several properties in the Bonaparte and Criss Creek area.
The major area of concern today is the McCormick Creek wildfire near Salmo in Southeast BC.
The fire has jumped the Salmo River toward the Shambhala Music Festival and is also moving in an easterly direction towards the community of Nelway.
It is now approximately 250 hectares in size and is behaving unpredictably.
The area of Nelway has been placed on an Evacuation Order immediately.
The EVACUATION ORDER includes the following areas.
• Bear Rd
• Pend D’Oreille Rd
• Rosebud Lake Rd
• Talbot Rd
• McCormick Creek Rd
The current active Evacuation Alert area has been expanded to include the Shambhala Music Festival.
BC Wildfire, RCMP, and the Regional District of Central Kootenay are strongly advising that due to the fire increasing in size and threatening properties in the area, that Shambhala Music Festival goers should ensure they leave adequate time to return home safely.
About 17 thousand people are attending that festival.
Emergency Management BC, the Ministry of Transportation and the RCMP are assisting the Regional District.
They says plans are in place to assist in evacuation should one be necessary.
As a result of the fire, Highway 6 is closed from High 3 to the U-S border.
Despite the cooling trend over the next few days, conditions in BC are expected to remain extreme, so the BC government has requested further assistance from the Canadian Armed Forces.
The CAF will provide up to 300 Standard BC Wildfire Service (BCWS) Tier III firefighting-trained CAF members in self-sufficient camps who will assist with the mop-up and monitoring stages of the wildfires, including air support.
The Wildfire Service will provide the supervision, training and equipment needed to keep the personnel safe.
The extra personnel will also provide temporary lodgings for firefighters transiting to and from remote locations.
With today’s deployment, the CAF has deployed a total of 650 personnel to British Columbia in support of this year’s firefighting efforts.
None of the Province’s requests for military support have included deployments in an armed or law-enforcement capacity, or for front-line fire suppression.
In July, the Province requested and obtained CAF aid with emergency airlifts, followed by a second request for assistance in support of the RCMP efforts in the Williams Lake area.
Military personnel have been in place specifically to help with ground and air evacuations, delivering essentials like food supplies by land and air, and maintaining road checkpoints throughout the areas affected by the fires.
Minister of Forests, Lands, Natural Resource Operations and Rural Development Doug Donaldson says given their training and command structure, the military personnel are ideally suited to assist with mop-up, demobilization and patrol work on a number of the larger wildfires.