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B.C. wildfire Wednesday: Officials eye ‘mixed bag’ in weather forecast

Fighting the Sparks Lake wildfire. B.C. Wildfire Service

Wildfire officials are watching the weather as high temperatures are in the forecast for much of British Columbia.

There are just under 250 wildfires burning in the province with six sparked over the last two days, according to BC Wildfire Service numbers on Wednesday.

Click to play video: 'Another heatwave expect to hit southern B.C. this week' Another heatwave expect to hit southern B.C. this week
Another heatwave expect to hit southern B.C. this week – Jul 27, 2021

More than a third of the wildfires are burning out of control with most of them in the Kamloops Fire Centre. Among the fires in that region is the Sparks Lake Wildfire, the largest in the region, estimated at nearly 59,000 hectares.

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Nearly 400 properties are on evacuation alert in the region with 295 homes on evacuation order.

Environment Canada has issued heat warnings for most of the inner south coast and special weather statements for many other regions of the southern Interior.

Rob Schweitzer, director of fire centre operations at the BC Wildfire Service, said the forecast shows a “mixed bag” with high temperatures but not much in the way of strong winds.

Read more: Weather statements for heat, smoky skies issued for lower third of B.C.

“The blessing right now, or so far, in the forecast is the winds aren’t going to be extreme,” said Rob Schweitzer, director of fire centre operations at the BC Wildfire Service, on Tuesday. “So it’s a bit of a positive and a negative where it’s not great that the temperatures are increasing, but the air mass is so stable that we’re not seeing those winds.”

British Columbia is “significantly ahead” of the 10-year average in terms of the number of fires and the area that has been scorched so far this year, Schweitzer said.

Read more: B.C. wildfire update Tuesday: Concerns after residents refuse to heed evacuation orders

The province has seen more than 1,230 blazes resulting in 4,250 square kilometres of land burned since April 1 and it’s only halfway through the wildfire season. The 10-year average for the same period is about 642 fires and 1,050 square kilometres burned, Schweitzer told a news conference.

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Click to play video: '‘If you are asked to evacuate please do so’ BC Wildfire Service' ‘If you are asked to evacuate please do so’ BC Wildfire Service
‘If you are asked to evacuate please do so’ BC Wildfire Service – Jul 27, 2021

A crew of 34 specialists from Australia is set to bolster the 208 out-of-province personnel working alongside more than 3,000 firefighters and others on B.C.’s fire lines, he said.

Teams from Alberta, Quebec, Mexico, and members of the Canadian Armed Forces are already deployed on some of the more than three dozen blazes that the wildfire service says are either highly visible or immediately threatening properties.

— with files from The Canadian Press

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