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Few fires sparked as lightning passes through Okanagan

FILE. Wildland firefighter Sasha Terhoch sprays water on hot spots remaining from a controlled burn the B.C. Wildfire Service conducted to help contain the White Rock Lake wildfire on Okanagan Indian Band land, northwest of Vernon, B.C., on Wednesday, Aug. 25, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Darryl Dyck

Lighting rolled through the Okanagan and Shuswap Sunday without, for a change, causing much damage,  BC Wildfire officials say.

“After the lightning cells passed through, we had six detected fires…. Four of them are just west of Merritt and two of them are closer to Kamloops,” Taylor MacDonald, BC Wildfire information officer, said.

All of the fires are spot size, which means they are 0.009 hectares or smaller, and two of them are already under control.

Click to play video: 'B.C. wildfires: Assessing damage caused by Nohomin Creek Fire'
B.C. wildfires: Assessing damage caused by Nohomin Creek Fire

It’s a vastly different scenario than MacDonald’s peers were reporting on this time last year, courtesy of this year’s rain and lower temperatures.

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To drive home how different conditions are, MacDonald said that from April 1 until Monday in the Kamloops Fire Centre, there have been 75 fires and they’ve burned roughly 1,800 hectares.

In the same timeframe last year, the Kamloops Fire Centre was dealing with 346 fires that burned more than 100,000 hectares.

Click to play video: 'Out-of-control Nohomin Creek Wildfire'
Out-of-control Nohomin Creek Wildfire

“The danger rating in the Kamloops Fire Centre are generally moderate,” MacDonald said, noting that the Okanagan is at a high fire danger rating, as it’s generally dryer than neighbouring regions.

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Despite conditions being much improved from the year earlier, MacDonald is still asking people to be cautious when they are out in wooded areas and to keep an eye open for any smoke or fires they may see.

“We’re asking folks to be vigilant,” she said, noting that there isn’t a campfire ban in place yet and it would be ideal for people to stay cautious.

What’s happening in Lytton should act as a strong reminder of how quickly conditions can change.

The Nohomin Creek wildfire near Lytton is now being classified as out of control, meaning officials are taking more aggressive tactics to suppress the flames.

Read more: Nohomin Creek wildfire near Lytton, B.C. grows to 1,700 hectares

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Currently, the blaze has been measured at just over 17 square kilometres.

Over the weekend, crews dropped buckets of water on the blaze, which was successful on the north and south flanks of the fire.

Click to play video: 'Structures lost in rapidly growing Lytton wildfire'
Structures lost in rapidly growing Lytton wildfire

Some crews stayed on overnight Sunday patrolling near the Stein Valley Path, where a flare-up was found and then put out early Sunday.

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The wildfire, which ignited last week, has destroyed at least six properties and forced more than 100 people from their homes on the west side of the Fraser River, the BC Wildfire Service said.

Recovery is still just starting in Lytton, which was mostly wiped out by a wildfire just over a year ago.

— with files from Amy Judd 

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