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Fires abound in B.C.

Jill Colton, staff writer

July 26, 2010 — Another week, another round of tinder-dry conditions and hot temperatures for B.C. Due to the sizzling weather, the risk of wildfires remains high throughout the province. Meanwhile, a campfire ban remains in place for Vancouver Island.

Smoke plumes in Okanagan Falls
Smoke plumes in Okanagan Falls

The lack of rain is proving to be devastating for B.C. as more and more fires are breaking out.

And once again this week, rain is nowhere in sight. “The low can't break through because high pressure is swirling around the Pacific, and it's not able to bring any instability,” explains Weather Network meteorologist Christina Huang.

The lack of precipitation has resulted in Vancouver seeing less than a millimetre of rain in July, the average is 39.6 mm for this time of year.

The hot, dry and windy weather has pushed B.C.'s fire risk to extreme levels, and that has fire officials on high alert. On Sunday evening, crews weren't taking any chances when a small brush fire broke out in an urban area near a golf course in North Vancouver.

Emergency workers managed to contain the flames to around 2,000 square metres and no properties were threatened. The fire was extinguished Monday and officials say the cause may have been a campfire, but nothing has been confirmed.

“Some people just don't think. They figure it's been hot, but it's the evening so it must be fine, but everything is very, very dry,” says Jim Bonneville with the District of North Vancouver Fire and Rescue. Bonneville adds that the region would need a lot of rain for everything to be damp and wet again.

High pressure is blocking low pressure
High pressure is blocking low pressure

Meanwhile, residents north of West Kelowna, are on evacuation alert after a wildfire sparked there on Sunday. Ten firefighters, along with two helicopters and three airtankers were helping to douse the two-hectare blaze. Retardant lines and hoselay were laid completely around the perimeter of the flames.

And near Lillooet, firefighters remained on guard overnight on Sunday at a 600-hecatre forest fire that had been growing with intensity all day. Nearly 100 firefighters had been watering down the flames to prevent it from spreading to the pine trees. Steep and rough terrain was making it difficult to put it out. Officials have determined a lightning strike ignited the fire on Wednesday. Currently, 85 residents are under an evacuation alert.

The fire risk has also been extended to Vancouver Island. A campfire ban took effect in coastal B.C. last Friday. Fire Information Officer Alyson Couch says, “We are definitely watching the weather very closely. It is the number one indicator of how fires will burn and where they'll burn.”

You can keep track of the fire risk in your area by heading to our Forest Fire Watch section of our website.

You can also tune into The Weather Network on TV for details on the weather in your area. Your National Forecast comes up at the top and bottom of each hour.

With files from The Canadian Press and Andrea Stockton

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