B.C. wildfire conditions remain stable

July 24, 2017, Kamloops, B.C. – Luck was on the side of firefighters in British Columbia on Sunday as a windstorm failed to stir up the scores of
wildfires that have been threatening communities across the province.

The BC Wildfire Service said there was no significant growth of the 156 blazes currently burning. Nineteen new wildfires were sparked, with nine caused by lightning, five blamed on human activity and the rest under investigation.

Although the wind storm didn’t kick up the fires, it did topple trees and bring down power lines in B.C.’s Shuswap region as well as around Golden and Revelstoke.

”It was like Armageddon for about 10 minutes. You just felt helpless,” said Jon Keen, who was visiting Shuswap Lake, about 10 kilometres east of Kamloops, when the storm hit.

”Big tall trees just started bending and snapping in half,” he added, describing a tree falling on his cabin and another coming down on a truck parked nearby, while a third narrowly missed the family’s camper.

There were no reports of injuries but BC Hydro said thousands of customers were still in the dark on Monday and estimates of when power might be restored would have to wait until crews stretched thinly by wildfire repairs had a better idea of the extent of the problem.

The news was better around Princeton and 100 Mile House where evacuation orders were downgraded to alerts on the weekend, allowing anxious residents to return.

More than 700 fires have scorched more than 3,700 square kilometres since April 1 in British Columbia.

Navi Saini, a spokeswoman for the BC Wildfire Service, warned on Monday that temperatures in the 30s and gusty winds are expected to continue for most of the week.

”Today there are no significant changes in the current weather, so it’s a little bit cooler, no strong winds, but that is going to change (Tuesday),” she said.

Norbord Inc. (TSX:OSB) said it has resumed production at its oriented strand board mill in 100 Mile House, which was temporarily shut down July 10 as a huge blaze flared nearby.

More than 30,000 people remain displaced since wildfires flared two weeks ago across the central and southern Interior.

Emergency officials in Prince George said the number of evacuees has grown slightly because eight babies have been born since their mothers were among those who streamed northward to reception centres there.

All the newborns are believed to be healthy and Northern Health said nearly 1,800 children, including the eight newborns, are among the nearly 10,000 people receiving assistance in Prince George.

An evacuation order issued last weekend is still in effect for 10,000 residents of Williams Lake. The Cariboo Regional District is pressing ahead with plans for re-entry, although city official Geoff Payton said unpredictable conditions make it impossible to set a firm date for a return.

(The Canadian Press, CHNL, 250 News)

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