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B.C.’s Interior counts 6 wildfires of note currently burning

Smoke rises from the Nohomin Creek wildfire near Lytton on July 29, 2022. B.C. Wildfire Service

One week ago, there was just one wildfire of note burning in British Columbia.

As of Aug. 3, following a lightning storm that rolled across the region and a lengthy heat wave that ended Tuesday, there are now six, all located in the Southern Interior.

In the Kamloops Fire Centre, there are four wildfires of note: Nohomin Creek, Keremeos Creek, Maria Creek Forest Service Road and Watching Creek. The fifth and sixth, Briggs Creek and Connell Ridge, are in the Southeast Fire Centre.

Read more: Several residents disobeying evacuation order despite growing Keremeos Creek wildfire

Below are the six wildfires of note:

Nohomin Creek

  • Location: 1.7 km northwest of Lytton, on the west side of the Fraser River
  • Discovered: Thursday, July 14
  • Size: 3,700 hectares
  • Status: Active, interface fire
  • Evacuation alerts, orders: Alert in effect
  • Resources: 65 firefighters, 10 helicopters
  • Cause: Under investigation, though suspected to be human-caused

According to BC Wildfire, there was an estimated 500-hectare growth in the northwest corner on Tuesday. The growth is all contained within the Stein Valley Nlaka’pamux Heritage Park and is moving west away from communities.

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In an update on Wednesday, BC Wildfire said “in this area, the fire is burning on steep cliffs, and rocky terrain ground crews cannot access. This is the most active part of the fire, and further growth is expected today in the far northwest area of the wildfire.”

The fire’s south, northeast and east flanks are described as stable, and crews are extinguishing hotspots.

However, increased winds are in the forecast, and fire behaviour may increase in the Stein Valley area in the afternoon.

“As the fire continues to burn on very steep slopes, aggressive fire behaviour may result in highly visible smoke from surrounding communities,” said BCWS.

Click to play video: 'Keremeos wildfire: Residents staying put despite being ordered' Keremeos wildfire: Residents staying put despite being ordered
Keremeos wildfire: Residents staying put despite being ordered – Aug 2, 2022

Keremeos Creek

  • Location: 21 km southwest of Penticton
  • Discovered: Friday, July 29
  • Size: 2,790 hectares
  • Status: Active, interface fire
  • Evacuation alerts, orders: Both are in effect
  • Resources: 137 firefighters, 115 structural protection personnel, 10 helicopters, 4 pieces of heavy equipment
  • Cause: Under investigation

Discovered less than a week ago, the fire has quickly grown in size. On Monday, it was sized at 1,700 hectares, but was updated after the smoke cleared, allowing a more accurate perimeter.

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BCWS says the fire has moved downslope closer to Highway 3A at the south end of Yellow Lake, and a control line is progressing along the highway.

Planned ignitions should take place on the fire’s east flank the next day.

“Crews are establishing control lines along the north side of Highway 3A southwards to Green Mountain Road, as well as establishing a control line from Highway 3A to top of Sheep Creek Road in preparation for ignitions operations,” said BCWS.

“Structure protection will be established where and as needed.”

BCWS says crews are also establishing control lines from Green Mountain Road, working west, and are preparing Cedar Creek Road for potential burn operations.

Click to play video: 'Some residents near Keremeos Creek wildfire vow to stay behind' Some residents near Keremeos Creek wildfire vow to stay behind
Some residents near Keremeos Creek wildfire vow to stay behind – Aug 2, 2022

Maria Creek

  • Location: 28 km northeast of Lillooet
  • Discovered: Sunday, July 31
  • Size: 1,004 hectares
  • Status: Active
  • Evacuation alerts, orders: None.
  • Resources: N/A
  • Cause: Lightning

BCWS says the fire continues to burn in old cut blocks, where fuels are patchy and disorganized.

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The fire grew an estimated 75 hectares on Tuesday, towards the northeast. Winds are expected to increase in the afternoon, and fire activity may increase. However, cloudy conditions and rain are in the forecast.

Watching Creek

  • Location: 16 km northwest of Kamloops
  • Discovered: Friday, July 29
  • Size: 195 hectares
  • Status: Active
  • Evacuation alerts, orders: Alert in effect.
  • Resources: 20 firefighters, six helicopters, 10 pieces of heavy equipment
  • Cause: Suspected to be lightning-caused

BCWS says cooler weather, higher relative humidity and cloud are expected today and will help to reduce fire behaviour. Smoke will likely remain visible from Kamloops and nearby communities for the coming days.

The fire is burning in steep terrain, making direct attack challenging. Skimmers and helicopters are supporting ground crews, and air tankers are deploying retardants to slow the fire’s spread.

Click to play video: 'Highway 3A closed as Keremeos Creek wildfire shifts downslope' Highway 3A closed as Keremeos Creek wildfire shifts downslope
Highway 3A closed as Keremeos Creek wildfire shifts downslope – Aug 2, 2022

Briggs Creek

  • Location: 11.5 km west of Kaslo
  • Discovered: Monday, Aug. 1
  • Size: 1,500 hectares
  • Status: Active
  • Evacuation alerts, orders: Alert in effect.
  • Resources: Seven firefighters, one helicopter
  • Cause: Lightning

BCWS says the fire is burning in steep, inoperable terrain. On Monday, due to high temperatures and unusually strong winds, it grew significantly in the evening and overnight hours.

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However, on Tuesday, recent observations noted it was mostly Rank 1 behaviour, or a smouldering ground fire with a slow rate of spread.

“This fire is very visible to the town of Kaslo and surrounding areas. In the evening hours, the fire is magnified by the darkness and may appear closer than it is,” said BCWS.

“Ground crews continue to monitor the fire late into the evening and early morning hours to ensure we are aware of any unwanted growth.”

Click to play video: 'Evacuation order in effect for Apex Mountain Village due to aggressive wildfire' Evacuation order in effect for Apex Mountain Village due to aggressive wildfire
Evacuation order in effect for Apex Mountain Village due to aggressive wildfire – Aug 1, 2022

Connell Ridge

  • Location: 15 km south of Cranbrook
  • Discovered: Monday, Aug. 1
  • Size: 500 hectares
  • Status: Active
  • Evacuation alerts, orders: Alert in effect.
  • Resources: 48 firefighters, three helicopters
  • Cause: Lightning

BCWS says the fire is burning at a high elevation, with Rank 2 behaviour observed, meaning it’s a low surface fire with a slow rate of spread.

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However, the fire is expected to increase in size, as an incoming cold front, with winds greater than 25 km/h, is projected Wednesday.

Crews are working on establishing control lines, heavy equipment is being dispatched to the site, and aerial resources will continue to work on the blaze.

For the latest wildfire conditions throughout the province, visit the BC Wildfire Service webpage.

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