More stable weather has resulted in relatively fewer wildfire starts in the past week, and cooler temperatures and some rain is forecast through the weekend. But with the changing weather also comes the possibility of lightning.
During the weekly provincial wildfire press conference Thursday, Rob Schweitzer, BC Wildfire Service's director of fire centre operations, said temperatures will remain hot in the Interior through Friday, but there's finally some precipitation in the forecast.
“Today and tomorrow will be hot. Severe burning conditions will be seen in the south half of the province and there'll be overnight burning on these incidents,” Schweitzer said, but a shift is expected come Saturday.
“We'll see a bit more fresh air in the Interior, in the south half of the province ... Improved visibility will be a welcome shift for our aviation teams who have been significantly hampered in their ability to conduct operations.”
While winds are expected to move the smoke out of the Interior, the unstable weather system through the weekend could result in some short-lived fire growth, but cooler temperatures and some precipitation is expected through to next week.
The possibility of lightning remains a concern though, and Schweitzer emphasized the importance of keeping human-caused fire starts to a minimum.
Of the 245 active fires burning in B.C., 181 were caused naturally, while 15 have been determined to be human-caused. To date, 1,250 wildfires have been started in the province this year, burning a total area of 456,000 hectares – more than four times the average area burned at this time of year over the past 10 years.
More out-of-province firefighters have now arrived in B.C., including those from other provinces, Mexico and the Canadian Armed Forces. Additionally, crews from Australia have now landed in B.C., and they're currently being assigned.
There remains 62 evacuation orders in effect across the province, impacting 3,343 properties. Another 17,679 properties are under an evacuation alert.
More than 6,094 evacuees have registered at evacuation centres, and there are five group lodging facilities in B.C. for evacuees with nowhere else to go, offering 800 beds. At this time, 161 evacuees are using these facilities.