With more than 300 wildfires burning and no state of emergency, some B.C. residents on edge

The sky glows orange as the Tremont Creek wildfire burns on a mountain in the distance above Ashcroft, B.C., on Thursday, July 15, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Darryl Dyck

There are concerns Friday about the wildfire situation in B.C. as the province heads into another mostly hot and dry weekend.

More than 300 fires are currently burning in the province with 15 of them sparked in just the last two days.

The biggest number of fires are burning in the Kamloops region, with 108 at last count.

There are 28 wildfires of note, meaning they pose a threat to public safety and are highly visible.

More than 1,500 properties remain on evacuation order due to the wildfires.

Click to play video: 'More than 20 fires ignite across BC in 48 hours'
More than 20 fires ignite across BC in 48 hours

Many residents said Thursday they are frustrated that the B.C. government has not declared a provincial state of emergency.

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One of B.C.’s regional districts hardest hit by the province’s “unprecedented” early wildfire season is set to formally call on the NDP government to declare a provincial state of emergency.

But officials are saying it is still not necessary.

Speaking at a news conference Thursday, Brendan Ralfs, director of response for Emergency Management BC, said he wants to remind everyone that a state of emergency is “primarily a legislative tool.”

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“During this current event, a provincial declaration of a state of emergency has not been necessary to assist people to access funding or to coordinate or obtain additional resources, including federal assets to support both response efforts and people who are affected or impacted by the event.”

He said the province is providing all necessary and requested resources across B.C.

“Any declaration of a provincial state of emergency will be done on the advice of Emergency Management BC and BC Wildfire officials and a provincial state of emergency will be activated if and when it is required.”

Click to play video: 'Firefighters confront conditions normally seen in August'
Firefighters confront conditions normally seen in August

Many fires are burning in the Cariboo region with 58 active ignitions.

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The Flat Lake fire, which is estimated to be 10,000 hectares in size, is showing aggressive fire behaviour, the B.C. Wildfire Service said Thursday.

It is currently burning 27 kilometres southwest of 100 Mile House, which has been placed on evacuation alert.

The service said due to suppression efforts that fire has not yet reached Highway 97 so the highway is currently open. However, anyone travelling in the region is asked to check Drive BC for the latest conditions.

An advisory remains in place regarding smoky conditions in the area.

The Flat Lake fire is expected to grow in size, the B.C. Wildfire Service warned, due to windy conditions.

Click to play video: 'Okanagan fires exploding in size  due to dry conditions'
Okanagan fires exploding in size due to dry conditions

In the Kamloops region, the Thomas Creek wildfire near Okanagan Falls is now more than 5,500 hectares in size, forcing an evacuation alert for more than 700 properties.

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South of the Okanagan Connector, about 40 kilometres from West Kelowna the Brenda Creek wildfire is now 400 hectares in size. An evacuation order has been issued for 43 properties in the area with nearby Eneas Lakes Provincial Park placed under evacuation alert.

Towards Kamloops, widespread smoke is billowing from the Sparks Lake fire, now an estimated 45,166 hectares, forcing almost 300 properties to be placed on evacuation alert.

The B.C. Wildfire Service said Friday afternoon there will be increasing clouds in the area, which will bring isolated thunderstorms and southwest winds 10 to 20 km/hr with gusts up to 30 km/hr.

Gusty winds and directional change in the vicinity of thunderstorm development will bring increased fire activity Friday afternoon, officials warn. Overnight recoveries are improving with temperature lows down into the high teens.

Northeast of Kamloops, near Sun Peaks, the Embleton Mountain wildfires is about 580 hectares in size and the service said there has been minimal growth on this fire over the past couple of days. However, winds in the area remain a big concern.

The Thompson-Nicola Regional District has issued an evacuation order and alert for 132 properties in one area, and a further 170 properties in another area.

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The Sun Peaks Mountain Resort Municipality has also issued an evacuation alert for all Sun Peaks Mountain Resort Municipality properties.

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