612,141 hectares burned

Alanna Kelly

Heavy smoke is posing a challenge for firefighters battling more than 560 wildfires across B.C.

Since April 1, there have been 1,925 fires, burning 612,141 hectares.

“Recently, we have had issues with heavy smoke ... so that has grounded air operations... That has been an inhibiting factor in how we can run operations,” says fire information officer Forrest Tower.

Dramatic plumes of smoke were captured by a Kelowna-based pilot over Burns Lake, west of Prince George.

“It was Friday afternoon at 25,000 feet,” said Zsolt Timar-Geng.

Meanwhile, an air task force was set up Tuesday by the Royal Canadian Air Force to help with B.C.'s wildfire situation. Sea King and Griffon helicopters and a Hercules aircraft are on the way to assist.

Tower said in the area from Burns Lake to Fraser Lake there are a number of significant wildfires.

Four fires of note in the area include the Shovel Lake wildfire at 86,397 hectares, the Island Lake wildfire at 17,291 ha, the Verdun wildfire at 14,711 ha, and the Nadina Lake wildfire at 72,172 ha.

“These four fires are definitely the hot spot in the province for fires at this point,” he said.

Tower said strong winds are expected this afternoon into tomorrow.

“We are pretty confident that the containment and guard will hold, but today and tomorrow will be a test of that.”

Lightning started a number of the current fires, but Tower said many of those were contained quickly.

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