A provincial state of emergency is now in effect for B.C. and thousands of people are under evacuation orders as out-of-control wildfires burn in many parts of the province.
There are currently 297 wildfires burning around B.C.
Since April 1, the start of the fire season, there have been 1,156 wildfires ignited with 310,509 hectares burned.
The B.C. Wildfire Service said this is about 200,000 hectares more than the 10-year average at this time in the season.
Wildfire expert Mike Flannigan at Thompson Rivers University in Kamloops said Wednesday he is “scared” of this season, not only in B.C., but across the western United States as well.
“We still have another six to seven weeks of fire activity ahead of us and there’s no relief in sight,” he said.
The Service says strong winds are predicted to come up from the U.S., fanning the flames in the province’s Interior over the next 48 hours. No moisture is expected, and the southeast could see another batch of lightning that could ignite more fires.
The weather is expected to exit late on Thursday, July 22.
More than 3,000 firefighters and other personnel are currently fighting the fires, totalling 3,180 including out-of-province and aerial support.
Some 135 out-of-province firefighters are helping battle the blazes, along with 178 helicopters and planes supporting ground crews.
Located between the communities of Oliver and Osoyoos, the wildfire is still classified as being out of control.
Overall, there are 987 properties under evacuation alert and 694 properties under evacuation order.
Another area of concern is the Two Mile Road fire, burning two kilometres south of Sicamous.
It is an estimated 130 hectares in size but already has forced an evacuation order for all residences within the District of Sicamous that lie to the south of Sherlock Road south-east of Cook Avenue, Gillis Avenue, Larch Avenue, east of the Sicamous Narrows and Mara Lake, and north of Sicamous Creek.
Those living in the district south of the Trans-Canada Highway, up to the eastern and western boundaries, are under evacuation alert.
There are 44 evacuation orders in the province and 74 evacuation alerts.
This equates to 3,078 properties on order and 16,225 properties on alert.
Those vacationing in areas where there are wildfires are being asked to pack up and go home if possible to make room for more wildfire evacuees should the need arise.
“We do have significant fires throughout the southeast and, well, the southeast moving north to Kamloops and then into the interior,” B.C. Premier John Horgan said Wednesday.
“So if you’re going to be travelling to those areas, check with the local providers, check with whoever you booked accommodation with, and see what advice they’re giving you. In the end, people will make their choices. That’s entirely up to them. There will be closures in the backcountry. There are now and there will be more coming as fires continue to ignite.
“We have a bad stretch of weather ahead of us. We have winds picking up. These are all bad, bad, bad news.”