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Fire near Harrison Lake now 1325 hectares in size

WATCH (above): A fast-moving wildfire near Harrison Lake has significantly grown in the last day. Two campsites have been evacuated by RCMP. John Hua reports.

UPDATE (Aug.6): Fire officials say the larger estimated size of this fire is due to increased visibility today which permitted more accurate mapping. The majority of the fire’s growth took place on Aug. 2 and 3, but heavy smoke in the area previously limited mapping capabilities. No structures or communities are threatened.

A wildfire estimated at 650 hectares in size continues to grow 20 kilometres northwest of Harrison Hot Springs, and is causing major difficulties for crews.

BC Wildfire Services said the fire experienced significant growth due to high winds last night.

On Monday, most of the growth in the fire came to the northwest, where it was burning very aggressively at a 3-4 rank. Heavy smoke in the area hampered crews from seeing all of the fire perimeter.

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Winds gusting up to 35 kilometres an hour have been the driving force behind its growth. It is currently zero per cent contained.

Two nearby campgrounds have been evacuated as a safety precaution, but at this point no evacuation order or alert has been issued and no structures are threatened.

In total, close to 1000 people have been removed from the area, but there may be some campers near the Wood Lake Recreation Site and 20 Mile Bay campsite that are unaware of the order.

Skrepnek says the people in the campsites were not threatened by the fire but the precaution was taken because there is only one road in and out of the area.

The fire is heading northwards; away from the community of Harrison Hot Springs.

The fire burning near Harrison Lake has grown to 600 hectares. BC Wildfire Service
The fire burning near Harrison Lake has grown to 600 hectares. BC Wildfire Service
The fire burning near Harrison Lake has grown to 600 hectares. BC Wildfire Service

Mounties have also blocked some roads in the area to prevent people from getting close to the fire.

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In total 135 firefighters, nine helicopters, and multiple tankers — including the Martin Mars water bomber — have been called in to fight the flames.

Donna MacPherson of the BC Wildfire Service said the Martin Mars was in the air Sunday and Monday, but could not be used Tuesday. The plane is now in Port Alberni and is responding, along with other tankers, to new lightning-caused fires in the area. It may be used again to fight the Harrison Lake fire.

Currently, there are 139 active fires — 91 lightning-caused and 34 human-caused — across the province of B.C. with 15 new ones being sparked since Sunday.

Chief Fire Information Officer Kevin Skrepnek says the majority of the fires this summer have been human-caused and that hot, dry conditions will likely lead to an increase in wildfires over the next few days.

“We have seen an uptick in human-caused fires, which we anticipated with the number of people out during the long weekend,” Skrepnek says.

Since April, the costs for fighting fires across B.C. have reached nearly $175 million in comparison to last year’s $129 million.

WATCH: B.C. fires on the rise following long weekend

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