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Wildfire conditions ahead of schedule, high hazards for Okanagan, south Cariboo: July outlook

Smoke rises from the Sparks Lake wildfire near Kamloops. The BC Wildfire Service says burning conditions across much of the province are currently three to four weeks ahead of schedule. BC Wildfire Service

Summer this year in B.C. will likely be warmer and dryer than normal, according to one forecast.

This week, the BC Wildfire Service posted its seasonal outlook.

Along with noting that the Southern Interior received just 30 per cent of its normal June rainfall, the provincial agency said July forecasts “indicate a strong likelihood of warmer and dryer than normal conditions persisting across much of B.C.”

Read more: B.C. wildfire map 2021: Location and size of the fires burning around the province

As a result of the recent heat dome that baked and dried out much of B.C., the Wildfire Service said “burning conditions across much of the province are currently three to four weeks ahead of schedule and more typical of average mid-July or August conditions.”

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Notably, the outlook said B.C. has had 689 fires to date, with roughly 318, or nearly 50 per cent, occurring the week of June 28.

It added that “grass and other surface fuels have been drying quickly, meaning that seasonal ‘green up’ is over for most parts of the province. With fine fuels now well cured, wildfire behaviour will be more typical of mid-July or August conditions.”

Click to play video: 'B.C. wildfires: Kamloops air quality, Lytton evacuee bus tour, Sparks Lake update' B.C. wildfires: Kamloops air quality, Lytton evacuee bus tour, Sparks Lake update
B.C. wildfires: Kamloops air quality, Lytton evacuee bus tour, Sparks Lake update – Jul 7, 2021

The outlook said a trio of factors — dry fuel conditions, lack of June precipitation and a record-breaking heat wave — “have also created the necessary environment for very large fire growth.”

Further, it said heightened wildfire activity is expected to persist well into July.

“Recent weather and fuel conditions have made initial attack challenging, meaning large fires will likely be occurring throughout the province,” said BC Wildfire.

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Read more: B.C. Premier John Horgan says Lytton will be a community of the future

“The Okanagan and southern Cariboo regions are showing very high hazard. Significant rain is required to reduce the hazard, however, none is forecast in the foreseeable future.”

Click here to view July’s seasonal outlook.

Click to play video: 'B.C.’s wildfire response comes under attack' B.C.’s wildfire response comes under attack
B.C.’s wildfire response comes under attack – Jul 7, 2021

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