The BC Wildfire Service said while overall, the number of wildfires burning is trending downward, the number of wildfires of note is at 40 — an unprecedented number. A wildfire is considered of note when it is highly visible, or threatens people or structures.
“This is something that we have not seen before,” said Fire Information Officer Karley Desrosiers.
As of Monday at 1 p.m., 256 wildfires were reported to be burning across the province. That number is lower than it was earlier this month, but the risk remains, especially in the southeast, where there’s been no reprieve from higher-than-average temperatures.
The early and aggressive start to the wildfire season means firefighters are stretched to capacity. Reinforcements from across B.C., Canada and Mexico, as well as the Canadian Armed Forces, joined the fight Monday. Desrosiers said 500 more people were expected on the front lines Monday, compared to Friday.
Later this week the province expects an additional 34 firefighters from Australia to help in the fight.
“We are still in the phase of triage fires based on based on the main priorities, which are human life, structures, wildlife and economic values. And not all of the fires that are currently burning are able to be resourced,” she explained.
The Nk’Mip Creek wildfire continues to burn, and Incident Commander Jane Park explained the crew from Mexico will help with that fire.
“We are extremely grateful for their assistance given how short the resources have been here in the province,” she said.
The fire, which is burning in Osoyoos, continues to grow, but due to heavy smoke, officials say they can’t say how large it is.
The Thomas Creek wildfire in the Okanagan continues to burn. Officials said there has been significant fire activity.
A landmark cabin was saved by firefigthers battling high winds. They burned small pieces of dry fuel around the cabin to direct the fire away from it. Mike McCulley from the BCWildfire Service said it worked.
“The cabin is still standing,” he explained, calling it a win.
Despite the win, McCulley said there was growth and more evacuation orders may be on the way. As of Monday afternoon, there was no change.
More than 4,000 properties are ordered evacuated; another 17,000-plus are on alert.
Many regions blanketed by smoke are popular summer vacation destinations. The wildfire service says smoke may be visible from highways, and those travelling should know specifics about where to find fire information for where they’re headed.
“Know where the fires are in the area that you are going. Be make sure you are aware of any area restrictions, evacuation alerts or orders in those areas. Be prepared to leave at any moment should there be a new evacuation order and alert implemented and make sure that if you are traveling to to an unfamiliar area that you are aware of which regional district and or local municipality governs that region so you know where to get that most of that up to date and accurate information,” added Desrosiers.
This is a developing news story.