B.C. burning on all sides

It’s all hands on deck as firefighters are battling hundreds of wildfires burning across British Columbia.

Wildfires are burning on all sides of the province currently, which means the BC Wildfire Service is working at its maximum capacity and calling in extra help from around the world.

Chief fire information officer with the B.C. Wildfire Service Kevin Skrepnek said just under 500 fires are burning right now.

“What’s definitely unique about what we are seeing right now is we are busy from one corner of the province to the other,” he said. “All of our six regional fire centres are all very fully engaged, quite busy, in their highest prepared levels right now.”

The biggest concerns right now are the Kamloops Fire Centre and the Northwest Fire Centre regions.

“Particularly the fires down towards Cawston and Keremeos, and then we have a number of fairly large fires burning in the Northwest right now as well,” said Skrepnek.

Two wildfires burning near Telegraph Creek combined to make one large fire.

“There have been some pretty significance impact to Telegraph Creek, there have been homes and structures destroyed there and the entire community has been evacuated,” he said.

According to Skrepnek this is the most hard hit area currently.

“There has been two fires up there that merged,” he said. “Combined they are just under 30,000 hectares in size.”

Extra support outside of B.C. has been called in by the BC Wildfire Service to help fight the wildfires.

“We do have personnel in right now from Northwest Territories, Alberta, Saskatchewan as well as four aircraft from Quebec and then we have some Parks Canada personnel helping us out,” he said.

Firefighters from Mexico and New Zealand, along with Australian support staff have also arrived and are actively assisting.

Friday and Saturday will bring new challenges for the crews and Skrepnek said there is a big concern with weather.

“They are looking fairly critical, we do have a shift coming,” he said. “A cold front is going to be coming through most of the province so that is going to reduce temperatures.”

But that also means winds and potential for lightning.

“We are definitely bracing for a couple challenging days both in terms of that lightning and potentially starting new fires, and also the wind effect on the fires we have burning,” said Skrepnek.

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