Fire officials wary of winds

While thunderstorms expected Friday in B.C.'s Interior could add to fires in the region, officials are also wary of winds those storms bring which could impact existing fires.

"It's always a concern when we have a system breakdown," BC Wildfire Service information officer Claire Allen said.

"This can cause convective thunderstorm development... and around any of these thunderstorm cells, there's potential for stronger or gustier winds, as well as erratic winds in terms of their directions."

Allen said the projected conditions could be a repeat from a system that hit the Interior late last week, when temperatures dipped down after a heatwave and brought along stronger winds.

During that weather shift, the Snowy Mountain wildfire in the Similkameen nearly doubled in size to an estimated 10,900 hectares which made it the largest wildfire burning in B.C. at that time, fanned by "unpredicted and sustained" winds.

"Those were the winds that did create the downdraft conditions that pushed the fire downslope on the east flank of the Snowy Mountain fire," Allen said. The fire's movement then led to about two dozen evacuation orders on Chopaka Road south of Cawston.

"With that said, burn-off operations have reduced the fuel that is available to burn for the fire to move in that direction."

As of early Thursday afternoon, there were 30 fires "of note" burning across B.C., as identified by the BCWS. Seven of those are in the Kamloops Fire Centre which encompasses the Okanagan.

More than 460 wildfires are currently burning in the province.

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