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Lightning storm starts new fires in BC Interior overnight

Lightning sparks new fires

A lightning storm rolled through British Columbia's Interior Monday night, sparking new fires across the region.

Tuesday morning, the BC Wildfire Service (BCWS) has identified 10 new wildfire starts in the Kamloops Fire Centre, which encapsulates the Okanagan and Thompson regions. But according to Fire Information Officer Gagan Lidhran, just two of the new fires were sparked by lightning, while the other eight are believed to be human caused.

One of the new lightning-caused fires is burning 57 kilometres northeast of Adams Lake, north of Seymour Arm, and it's already grown to 10 hectares in size. Twenty BC Wildfire Service firefighters are currently fighting the fire.

A smaller fire nearby was also sparked by lightning. Three firefighters are currently attending to the small, spot-sized fire burning 50 kilometres northeast of Adams Lake.

Another nearby fire, near the northwestern shore of Adams Lake has grown to 10 hectares, Lidhran says. Today the BCWS has 31 firefighters on the ground with a helicopter dropping water and tankers dropping retardent lines.

The fire has surface flames, and is growing at a moderate rate. It remains out of control. The cause is unknown at this time.

South from there, the Gold Creek Forest Service Road fire is still burning, staying around a quarter of a hectare. Because of the terrain, the BCWS isn't able to directly engage with the burning area, but they're keeping a close eye on the situation.

The burning area, believed to be set alight by lightning, is in a steep area surrounded by lush grass. 

Lidhran said while the Kamloops Fire Centre avoided the majority of the recent lightning, there may be more to come Tuesday, but human activity has been more of a concern.

“To date, 68 per cent of the 136 fires in the Kamloops Fire Centre have been human caused,” she said. “Human-caused wildfires are preventable and detract important resources away from responding to unpreventable lightning-caused wildfires.”

The Southeast Fire Centre appears to have been hit harder by the storms, with 25 new fire starts in the region. The majority of the new fires are in the Arrow and Kootenay Lakes Fire Zones.

“Multiple ground crews and aerial resources are assessing reports and will continue to strategically action fires,” the BC Wildfire Service posted to social media.

“The largest of these new fires is estimated to be 1.5 hectares and there are no values currently at risk.”

Doug Lundquist, meteorologist with Environment Canada, says the Okanagan saw a handful of lightning strikes through the evening, but the majority hit around the Monashees and into the West Kootenays.

“There were maybe about half a dozen strikes on the west side of (Okanagan) Lake, but not many,” Lundquist said. “We had about 1,800 lightning strikes in the Monashees, east of the Okanagan.”

Lundquist says there were many different storms across the Interior, with rain falling in some areas.

Meanwhile, lightning started at least 29 new fires in the Coastal Fire Centre overnight, including 13 in the Pemberton Fire Zone alone.

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