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Fewer fires starting but BC Wildfire Service says weather continues to be a concern

With the province about to enter its fourth week in a state of emergency, BC Wildfire Service Chief Information Officer Kevin Skrepnek delivered an update on the wildfire situation Friday afternoon.

“We have 149 fires burning across the province right now. Since April 1, we’ve responded to 804 fires that have burned over 380,000 hectares of land. Estimated cost to date for the BC Wildfire Service: $160 .8 million.”

12 new fires started Thursday. Skrepnek says, given the hot dry conditions, it’s amazing there weren’t any more.

He says there is no significant rain forecast for any of the affected areas.

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“We’re continuing to see hot and dry, sunny conditions for the south. Tomorrow (July 29), we’re seeing a risk of thunderstorms in the Northern Cariboo and Prince George fire Center. Slight risk of a thunderstorm on Sunday but unfortunately, we’re expecting continued hot and dry conditions for the foreseeable future.”

The BC Wildfire Service has more than 4,600 people working to battle the blazes. That includes nearly 1,000 out of province personnel and over 1,500 contractors, many from the forestry industry.

Although many have been allowed to return home, Emergency Management BC estimates that about 5,000 people are still under evacuation orders.

In the Cariboo Fire Centre, Friday July 28:

The BC Wildfire Service says although activity increase on many wildfires in the Cariboo Fire Centre the past two days, fires in the Williams Lake are have not grown substantially.

The evacuation order was lifted for the City and majority of the surrounding areas Thursday.

Fire Information Melinda Paplawski says now that the public is back, they do have some safety reminders.

“We definitely need people to stay away from any areas where we are working, where we have crews, or where we have helicopters in the air because if the helicopter is flying around with a bucket and all of a sudden they call in that there is someone with a quad they can no longer drop that bucket of water that they have.”

Paplawski also reminds the public to watch their speed as their could be equipment on the road, and that fire damaged trees can be unstable and could fall down at any time.

She says Thursday’s night winds were spotty and that it did cause some flareups which resulted in helicopters working a bit later into the evening dumping water on them until the winds died down.

Flareups were also reported at the 103 Mile West road.

The BC Wildfire Service says that they will recommend that current evacuation alerts be upgraded to evacuation orders should fire activity increase and public safety or escape routes, such as highways, be threatened.

BC Wildfire Service crews will be performing a burn out operation today in the Towydkin Lake area and south of IR#4 along the 4500 road and on the south east flank of the White Lake fire this afternoon.

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