Wildfire season underway with large fire near Kamloops

© B.C. Wildfire Service A fire burning near Merritt, B.C., on Sunday, May 27.

As May turns into June, the B.C. Wildfire Service has already been in action on 227 fires in the current fire season.

That’s not an unusual figure, the service’s chief fire information officer says.

But what is unusual is how aggressive the current fire situation is, with several fires already posing serious challenges to firefighters.

“This has everything to do with the weather,” Kevin Skrepnek said Sunday. “Unseasonably hot and dry, six to 10 degrees hotter than usual in most places, this feels more like early July.”

There are currently 73 fires burning across the province, with a trio fires of note.

A fire about 20 square kilometres in size is near Allie Lake, about 55 kilometres northwest of Kamloops. Members of the public are not allowed in the area after an area restriction was put in place on Saturday. More than a dozen properties have been evacuated and another 51 properties are on evacuation alert. The fire is moving in a northeasterly direction, away from Allie Lake.

There are 130 people fighting the fire, with the help of air tankers, 11 helicopters and 10 pieces of heavy equipment

A 200 square kilometre fire near Tommy Lakes, about 200 kilometres north of Fort Saint John, was also burning out of control.

This fire has 77 firefighters on scene assisted by seven helicopters and seven pieces of heavy equipment.

The regional district put in an evacuation order in an area south of the fire.

Skrepnek said a commune of about 100 people was at risk. Firefighters were also working to protect oil and gas infrastructure in the area.

Far to the southwest from Tommy Lakes, a fire about five square kilometres in size was burning at Xusum Creek, about 35 kilometres west of Lillooet and 10 kilometres north of D’Arcy. Though still classified as out of control, the fire was about 25 per cent contained.

Residents of a pair of properties on Highline Road were ordered to evacuate with another 30 properties in the area on evacuation alert.

There are 64 firefighters and three helicopters battling the blaze.

Sunday, a smaller fire sparked up about 27 kilometres northwest of Merritt on the Chattaway Lake Forest Service Road. Another small fire was being fought on the north end of Pitt Lake, in an area of old growth forest, the wildfire service said.

“We’re not really expecting much of a reprieve (in the weather) until at least Wednesday,” Skrepnek said. “A bit of a shift, cooler temperatures; a good amount of rain for the southern half of the province.”




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