July 17, 2017 11:26 am
Updated: July 18, 2017 12:50 am

B.C. wildfire status Monday: Season shaping up to be one of the most destructive

WATCH ABOVE: Wildfires near Alexis Creek send massive plumes of smoke skyward

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B.C. is only a few weeks into fire season but it’s already shaping up to be one of the most destructive years in the province’s history.

Officials are predicting the summer will continue to be very hot and very dry.

The wildfires have already forced close to 40,000 people to flee their homes and firefighters, first responders and support staff have been brought in from across Canada to help in the fight.

WATCH: Fire crews making progress near Clearwater

There are 162 wildfires burning across B.C. this morning, burning up more than 131,000 hectares.

So far, the province has spent $80 million to fight the fires this year, compared to $100 million all of last year.

LISTEN: A look at Williams Lake with Jon McComb

But on Monday there was some good news for at least one group of evacuees.

Cache Creek residents have been given the green light to return home as of 3 p.m. Tuesday afternoon, but will remain on evacuation alert.

The village of 1,000 was evacuated on July 7, as the aggressive Ashcroft Reserve wildfire tore through the area.

READ: B.C. wildfires coverage

Meanwhile,thousands of people remain evacuated from Williams Lake and the surrounding areas, where a windy Saturday blew a number of fires closer to the city.

Officials said that while the flames haven’t reached Williams Lake, an evacuation order was issued because the fire threatened to cut exit routes.

 

“Despite everything that people have been through, people at the centre and our crews are in good spirits,” said fire information officer Kevin Skrepnek.

WATCH: Williams Lake firefighter ride-along


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“We’re managing our fatigue, making sure people are pacing and resting themselves. Realistically, we have weeks, if not months of this ahead of us.”

MAP: Wildfires burning around B.C. right now

On the outskirts of Williams Lake, crews continue to battle flames from reaching homes near Risky Creek.

The massive fire has already burned up tens of thousands of hectares. Many people near the Anaham Reserve are staying put to protect their homes right now and are getting some help in the way of aerial support and equipment.

WATCH: B.C. wildfires taking toll on tourism

Officials said numerous homes have been lost after a grass fire was sparked in Lake Country between Kelowna and Vernon. The fire is now 80 per cent contained.

More than 300 homes had to be evacuated as the rapidly spreading flames quickly scorched 30 hectares of land. Approximately 650 homes remain on alert.

READ MORE: B.C. wildfire status: List of latest evacuation orders

Smoke from the wildfires is reducing air quality across B.C.

Officials have released alerts for many areas, including the Okanagan Valley and Williams Lake. Pollution in both those places poses a high risk for seniors, children and adults with health conditions.

People are being told to avoid strenuous outdoor activity and contact a health-care provider if they experience difficulty breathing, chest pain, discomfort or a sudden cough.

Evacuation centres in Kamloops continue to fill up due to the evacuees.

People are spending hours registering at the main evacuation centre.

Additional evacuation centres are opening in Vernon, Kelowna, Chilliwack, Surrey and Salmon Arm.

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