B.C. wildfires: August forecast projects short-term rain, long-term pain

Click to play video: 'Firefighters confronting dangerous and aggressive White Rock Lake fire' Firefighters confronting dangerous and aggressive White Rock Lake fire
New evacuation orders and alerts were issued, Friday, because of the White Rock Lake fire, an aggressive and dangerous fire that has jumped creeks and fireguards in its relentless descent into the populated valleys of the B.C. Interior. Emad Agahi reports – Aug 6, 2021

There will be some short-term relief in the fight against B.C.’s wildfires, according to the BC Wildfire Service’s August outlook.

The service is projecting “widespread rainfall” throughout B.C. in early August, which it anticipates will “help moderate fire activity for the short term.”

While wet weather may help crews gain a foothold in the fight against more than 287 fires now burning across the province, the longer-term forecast projects trouble down the road.

Click to play video: 'White Rock Lake fire damages structures in Monte Lake' White Rock Lake fire damages structures in Monte Lake
White Rock Lake fire damages structures in Monte Lake – Aug 6, 2021

Another ridge of high pressure is forecast to settle over the province, bringing more hot and dry weather mid-month.

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“As the month progresses, current wildfires of note are expected to grow, with potential for big-spread events being when winds increase over 20 kilometres per hour,” according to the outlook.

“These conditions will continue to support new fire starts and sustained fire development. The wildfires burning across the province require a large number of wildfire personnel and will continue as such until extended periods of precipitation are received across the province.”

Read more: White Rock Lake wildfire: Vernon expands evacuation alert to include most of city

As of Saturday, 67 evacuation orders affecting 5,650 properties were in effect. A further 114 evacuation alerts, covering nearly 25,000 properties, were also active.

Firefighters’ main priority Saturday remained the massive and growing White Rock Lake fire, which on Thursday swept through the community of Monte Lake, causing a still unknown amount of damage, and on Friday prompted a new wave of evacuation alerts for larger communities, including Vernon and Armstrong.

As of Saturday, the fire, which is burning between Kamloops and Okanagan Lake, had grown to 55,000 hectares in size. BC Wildfire also noted that in certain areas, the fire was approximately 100-250 metres west of Okanagan Lake.

Click to play video: 'Resident captures smoke billowing from Tremont Creek wildfire in BC' Resident captures smoke billowing from Tremont Creek wildfire in BC
Resident captures smoke billowing from Tremont Creek wildfire in BC – Aug 5, 2021

The July Mountain Fire, burning 45 kilometres southwest of Merritt remained another concern on Saturday.

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On Friday, that fire jumped the Coquihalla Highway, prompting evacuations on both sides of the highway about 30 minutes south of Merritt and an evacuation alert for an area just south of the city.

Read more: Wildfire jumps the Coquihalla Highway, prompting evacuation order and alert

Wildfire crews patrolled the fire overnight, and Highway 5 remained open on Saturday. Motorists should check DriveBC for the latest conditions.

Since April, 1,425 wildfires have scorched more than 608,000 hectares across B.C.

There were 3,530 firefighters and other personnel active as of Saturday, including 609 people from out of province.

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