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Rain helps BC Wildfire crews get upper hand on fires near Peachland, Merritt

Smoke rises from the Kathleen Mountain wildfire burning west of Peachland Sept. 7, 2019.
Smoke rises from the Kathleen Mountain wildfire burning west of Peachland Sept. 7, 2019. BC Wildfire Service

Despite an intense lightning storm overnight, BC Wildfire crews were able to get two fires in the Southern Interior under control this weekend.

As of Sunday, the Kathleen Mountain wildfire burning 26 kilometres west of Peachland was classified as under control at 10 hectares.

That fire was discovered on Thursday and is believed to be lightning-caused.

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READ MORE: BC Wildfire crews tackling wildfire west of Peachland

Fire information officer Hannah Swift said 27 personnel remain on scene at the fire to continue patrolling for hot spots within the perimeter.

“The fire is still quite visible from Highway 40, but it’s under control,” she said, adding the fire is still not threatening any communities.

WATCH (July 25, 2019): Tips to protect your home from wildfires

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Swift said cooler temperatures and rain helped crews gain the upper hand on both that fire and another burning 30 kilometres south of Merritt.

The Shovelnose Mountain fire is being held at 15 hectares between the Coquihalla and Highway 5A.

Swift said 34 personnel are continuing to work the fire.

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Saturday’s lightning storm brought 6,900 lightning strikes to the Okanagan and Thompson-Nicola regions between 9 p.m. and 1 a.m., according to Environment Canada.

Eight new fires were discovered between Saturday and Sunday, Swift said, but all of them are spot-sized. The largest one is 0.9 hectares in size and is burning near Tranquille Creek.

“We did have personnel on all of those fires,” Swift said. “We do have one southeast of Lillooet that we don’t have personnel on yet because of weather making it unsafe for crews, but all others we have responded to.”

READ MORE: Second major lightning storm in a week sparks fires in southern B.C.

Two of the fires are burning near Kamloops, but Swift said they don’t pose a danger.

“They’re all being held,” she said.

The rain also helped lower the fire danger rating throughout the southern half of the province to mostly low, with some pockets of very low as of Sunday.

The fire danger rating in the province as of Sept. 8, 2019.
The fire danger rating in the province as of Sept. 8, 2019. BC Wildfire Service

Pockets of moderate danger continue to exist throughout the province, including in northern B.C.

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Southern Vancouver Island is one of only two areas seeing high to extreme fire danger, the other being a small pocket in the west of the Cariboo Fire Centre.

There are 52 wildfires actively burning throughout the province, which has seen 778 fires since April 1.