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B.C. wildfires: Lightning continues to spark fresh blazes

Lightning responsible for 80 per cent of current 234 wildfires
A tree struck by lightning near Vernon in 2021. So far in 2022, lightning strikes have started 70 per cent of the total 1,144 wildfires. (Makayla Hentges/Facebook)

Lightning strikes are the cause behind the vast majority of wildfires actively burning in B.C. as of Wednesday (Aug. 24) morning.

Of the 234 blazes, 188 are attributed to lightning. Another 14 are believed to be person-caused, while the start of the remaining 32 is unknown.

Lightning strikes were also behind two small fires that started near Cranbrook Tuesday and forced the Canadian Rockies International Airport to ground all flights for over an hour.

The majority of B.C.’s blazes are burning in the southern half of the province, with 82 in the southeast, 37 near Kamloops, 31 in the Cariboo region and 28 along the coast. Another 37 are burning in the Prince George region in the northeast, with the final 19 in the northwest.

Of them, 82 are out of control, 65 are under control and 37 are being held. Another 45 are considered new and five are classified as fires of note, meaning they’re particularly visible or pose a potential threat to the public. Two of those five will no longer be listed as such by end-of-day Thursday, according to BC Wildfire Service.

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For now, the five include:

Keremeos Creek

Estimated fire size: 7,042 hectares

Location: 21 kilometres southwest of Penticton

Discovered: July 29

Cause: Under investigation

Wind and topography continue to drive fire behaviour at Keremeos Creek, according to BC Wildfire. The blaze grew 100 hectares on Saturday due to wind at high elevations and a couple planned ignitions.

The fire is stable along the western side of Highway 3A, but BC Wildfire says smoke will remain in the area.

Evacuation alerts are in effect and the Keremeos Creek Forest Service Road remains closed.

There are 190 firefighters, eight helicopters and 12 pieces of heavy equipment on scene.

Briggs Creek

Estimated fire size: 2,160 hectares

Location: 11.5 kilometres west of Kaslo

Discovered: Aug. 1

Cause: Lightning

BC Wildfire Service says fire activity in the area has been significantly reduced and containment lines near any populated areas have been completed. An evacuation alert was lifted Monday afternoon.

As of end-of-day Thursday, the wildfire will no longer be listed as a fire of note.

Twenty-eight firefighters and one helicopter are on scene.

Connell Ridge

Estimated fire size: 1,707 hectares

Location: 23 kilometres south of Cranbrook

Discovered: Aug. 1

Cause: Lightning

Crews worked Sunday to attack hot spots in the fire, after an infrared scanning team identified the worst areas Saturday night.

An evacuation alert was rescinded Saturday afternoon, but an area restriction remains in place.

Helicopters continue to bucket the area while ground crews continue to widen a burn perimeter around the blaze to contain it.

There are 92 firefighters on scene, along with six helicopters and six pieces of heavy equipment.

Weasel Creek

Estimated fire size: 1,177 hectares

Location: 2 kilometres west of Frozen Lake and 39 kilometres southeast of Baynes Lake

Discovered: Aug. 4

Cause: Lightning

The wildfire’s burn area grew slightly Monday from 1,119 to 1,177 hectares, but hasn’t increased since then.

Crews have completed setting up a new camp closer to the fire, which is reducing drive time and allowing firefighters to stay on scene longer.

The area of the fire with the most activity is at the western end of Couldrey Creek. There, the flames are sticking primarily to the ground, while occasionally burning up some trees.

An area restriction is in place.

There are 79 firefighters on scene, along with six helicopters and 14 pieces of heavy equipment.

Mount Docking

Estimated fire size: 1,333 hectares

Location: 27 kilometres east of the Village of Radium Hot Springs

Discovered: July 30

Cause: Lightning

Fire behaviour is considered low, with it remaining close to the ground and slow moving. However, steep terrain continues to challenge crews in reaching certain areas.

An area restriction is in place, but BC Wildfire Service says the blaze will no longer be considered a fire of note by end-of-day Thursday.

There are 38 firefighters and one helicopter on scene.


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About the Author: Jane Skrypnek

I'm a provincial reporter for Black Press Media.
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