August 2, 2017 10:01 am
Updated: August 2, 2017 9:57 pm

B.C. wildfire status Wednesday: Arson suspected in 2 wildfires

Global BC’s Nadia Stewart reports on the effects of heavy wildfire smoke along Highway 97 outside Cache Creek.

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Fire officials are now saying at least two wildfires in B.C. this season were likely human-caused.

And it’s believed they were deliberately set.

The Knox Mountain fire in Kelowna and the Elephant Hill wildfire is also now thought to have been deliberately set.

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MAP: Wildfires burning around B.C.

The Elephant Hill wildfire near Ashcroft has now grown to approximately 84,442 hectares and is only 30 per cent contained at this time.

RCMP have now set up a tip line for anyone with information about the fire, especially if they were around on the night of July 6 when the fire started. Tips can be directed to 1-855-685-8788.

The Elephant Hill wildfire remains the biggest and the most challenging blaze facing firefighters this season.

WATCH:  Investigators have determined that at least two of B.C.’s wildfires have not only been human-caused, but deliberately set. Nadia Stewart reports.

FULL COVERAGE: B.C. wildfires

Twelve homes on the Ashcroft Reserve were destroyed due to the Elephant Hill wildfire and it’s believed numerous other structures have also been lost due to the massive blaze.

In total, 305 structures have been destroyed in this wildfire season but all the locations have not yet been released. Although the hardest hit communities are the Cariboo regional district (45 homes) Thompson Nicola (115 yet to be identified) Ashcroft Indian Band (12 homes)  and Lake country (eight homes).

About 138 wildfires are burning around B.C. with 840 fires burning since April 1.

New evacuation orders and alerts

While residents of some of B.C.’s larger municipalities such as Williams Lake have been allowed to return home, others are getting fresh notices to clear out or be ready to leave at a moment’s notice.

The Thompson Nicola Regional District has issued a new evacuation order for Electoral Areas “E” and “I” to the south and west of Clinton.

The Cariboo Regional District has also issued a new evacuation order for the Kluskus, Blackwater, Clisbako and Nazko area, about 100 kilometres west of Quesnel.

The district has also expanded an evacuation alert for residences south and west of Quesnel to Tatelkuz lake #2.

Harrop Creek theft

The theft of firefighting equipment has hindered the fight against a wildfire burning in B.C.’s Kootenay region.

A water pump and 10 lengths of hose as long as 30 metres used to fight the Harrop Creek wildfire, which was located 10 kilometres south of the communities of Harrop and Procter, went missing sometime overnight, the B.C. Wildfire Service said Tuesday.

Wildfire forces closure of highway

The Verdant Creek wildfire has forced the complete closure of Highway 93, between Radium Hot Springs and the B.C. Alberta border.

It is not known when the highway will reopen.

 

Air quality advisory

The numerous wildfires burning around B.C. have also prompted an air quality advisory for Metro Vancouver and the Fraser Valley as winds carry smoke from wildfires burning in B.C.’s Interior to the province’s south coast.

It has now been extended through Wednesday.

It’s looking like another hot one in Metro Vancouver today, with temperatures expected to hit 32 C in some areas.

The wildfire smoke isn’t going to go anywhere either.

Global BC meteorologist Mark Madryga says he expects the smoke to hang around at least into Saturday, perhaps Sunday.

WATCH: Wildfire smoke concerns in Cache Creek

“Well the smoke that invaded the Lower Mainland a couple days ago has now spread onto a big chunk of Vancouver Island,” said Madryga.

“It’s been coming in from the northeast and really no reason to think it’s going to go away until maybe later in the weekend.”

— With files from Jon Azpiri

© 2017 Global News, a division of Corus Entertainment Inc.

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