Fire crews on high alert across B.C. as Kamloops wildfire still smoldering

Click to play video: 'Wildfire danger rating on the rise in British Columbia' Wildfire danger rating on the rise in British Columbia
The fire-danger rating is on the rise across the province this weekend. The hot temperatures are putting pressure on wildfire crews. Just east of Kamloops, a blaze that broke out Thursday has grown quickly. Paul Haysom reports – Jul 13, 2018

The fire-danger rating is on the rise across B.C. this weekend.

The hot temperatures are putting pressure on fire crews.

Just east of Kamloops, a wildfire that broke out Thursday has grown quickly, scorching more than 500 hectares.

Watch Below: Kamloops residents are breathing a sigh of relief as the wildfire burning behind homes to the east of town has been beaten down to a smoldering grass fire. As Megan Turcato reports, investigators know the blaze was human caused.
Click to play video: '500 hectare blaze east of Kamloops now a smoldering grass fire' 500 hectare blaze east of Kamloops now a smoldering grass fire
500 hectare blaze east of Kamloops now a smoldering grass fire – Jul 13, 2018

“There’s a lot of spot fires currently down here,” Nacoma George from the Kamloops Indian Band told Global News. “We have a fire guard just behind us, a couple of hundred metres.”

Story continues below advertisement

On Thursday, a wildfire broke out east of Kamloops, along Shuswap Road, and grew to 500 hectares by Friday morning.

A number of homes were placed under evacuation order but it was rescinded Thursday evening as the fire moved away from residential areas.

Homes were also placed under evacuation alert.

“I had the suitcases on the bed, ready to be loaded,” said resident Doug Schack. “I had all my important documents in a cardboard box on the dresser and within five minutes, I could have had the truck loaded and be gone.”

READ MORE: Wildfire in east Kamloops mapped at 500 hectares

Burnt area behind homes on Shuswap Road in Kamloops.
Kamloops fire and personnel near Jules LaRue’s home.

The fire is still considered to be out-of-control at this time.

Story continues below advertisement
“Crews do continue to work to build that containment ahead of what we believe might be some increased winds [Friday] afternoon, so we are preparing for that,” Jody Lucius, a communications specialist with the Kamloops Fire Centre, told Global News.
“The fire activity right now would be considered a Rank 1 to 2 fire, so it is basically a smoldering ground fire at this time. We did see Rank 3 behaviour [Thursday].”

“At this time we don’t consider any structures to be threatened by this wildfire.”

READ MORE: Kamloops man says fire investigators looking into contract work as cause of massive blaze

One Kamloops resident says fire investigators are looking into contractor’s work as the cause of the fire Thursday.

Jules LaRue was visiting his mother down the road from his house on Shuswap Road on the Tk’emlúps te Secwépemc reserve east of Kamloops Thursday when he heard there was a fire behind his house.

“I came up here and I was told that the investigation is done now and it does appear that the fire was caused by someone cutting metal,” LaRue told Global News Thursday. “That they had a little, not a little, a big magnet. They were picking up filings from metal being cut and there was a big piece of metal over there you could tell it was freshly cut.”

Story continues below advertisement

It is not known what company was working on the home.

“Accidents happen,” said LaRue. “I’m not here to blame anybody. I know that somebody had good intentions and they just wanted to get work done so I could get back into my home faster. I know that accidents happen….it is just unfortunate it had to get so big.”

The BC Wildfire Service reported five new fires on Thursday.

After a damp start to the season, the fire-danger rating in the province has also begun to slide from low to moderate in most areas, and high in some parts of B.C.’s north.

That’s likely to get worse over the coming days, with hot, dry weather forecast for much of the province, according to Global BC meteorologist Kristi Gordon.

In West Vancouver, fire officials raised the danger rating from low to moderate.

“There’s [danger] everywhere. It’s in the parks, it’s in the woodlands, it’s on the beaches,” assistant Chief Jeff Bush told Global News.
“There’s only the matter of a few hot, dry days, where the [danger] can jump dramatically.”

READ MORE: Wildfire concerns grow with strong winds, high heat in B.C. forecast

Story continues below advertisement

Temperatures are forecast to top out at 34 C by next Tuesday in the central Okanagan.

Complicating matters, Gordon said a dry cold front is expected to slice through the province on Friday.

Fire crews across the province are on high alert.

To report a wildfire, call 1-800-663-5555 or *5555 on a cellphone.

Sponsored content