More than 140 new fires are burning across B.C. on Sunday, most of them sparked by lightning strikes.
The southern parts of the province saw the most new blazes with 33 new fires in the Coastal Fire Centre, 41 in the Kamloops Fire Centre and 60 in the Southeast Fire Centre.
BC Wildfire Service chief fire information officer Kevin Skrepnek said there are around 600 fires burning in the province on Sunday. Of those, more than 40 are considered wildfires of note.
“We haven’t had that many fires, in terms of number of fires, in many, many years,” he said.
“We are getting stretched on a resourcing perspective, so we are continuously bringing in additional resources from out of province.
“We are fully engaging the forest industry here in B.C. for contract resources as well, so we’ve already got hundreds of folks who have already streamed in both from elsewhere in Canada and internationally.”
WATCH: A large part of Quesnel is now under an evacuation alert and thousands of people are being told to be ready to leave at a moment’s notice. Nadia Stewart reports
This time last year there were only 158 fires burning across B.C., although they were larger fires, Skrepnek notes.
In B.C.’s Cariboo region, an evacuation order has been downgraded to an alert for the Houseman Road area, allowing residents to return home for now.
An evacuation alert has been issued for 65 properties in the Dean River North area.
And more than 900 properties from the northwestern Cariboo Regional District boundary to west of Nazko are on evacuation order as well.
An evacuation alert is still in place for properties in West Quesnel as the nearby Narcosli Creek fire, which was sparked by lightning, burns about 30 kilometres southwest of the city.
So far the fire has charred 3,100 hectares and is zero percent contained. That same blaze has triggered an evacuation order for the southwest Narcosli Creek area.
Quesnel Mayor Bob Simpson is warning people to have all their essentials ready to go.
“They have to get their medicines and if they need a prescription filled, get that filled,” he said.
— With files from Robyn Crawford