Jill Colton, staff writer
August 5, 2010 — Nearly 500 square km continue to burn in B.C. because of tinder-dry conditions, however, there's a chance of much-needed thundershowers for the Interior today. Metro Vancouver is also preparing itself should the fires spread to the coast. Oga Nwobosi has this report.
It's gone from bad to worse.
Three giant clusters of wildfires have grown to cover nearly 500 square km in B.C. After lightning strikes on July 28, flames have sprung up in the Cariboo region, including the Meldum Creek fires, and the Pelican Lake complex of fires southwest of Prince George. Each spans nearly 150 square km.
Another four fires near Alexis Creek, have scorched 195 square km. As of Wednesday, just under 400 fires were burning across the province. The government has so far spent more than $56 million fighting the fires.
And now, smoke from the Interior has prompted a 24-hour air quality advisory for Metro Vancouver, the Fraser Valley and the Sea-to-Sky corridor because of the elevated levels of fine soot in the air. According to local media, Hope, Chilliwack and Abbotsford are severely effected.
Meanwhile, a smoking ban is going into effect today for the city of Burnaby. This means that smoking is no longer permitted in parks until further notice. The area is on high alert because of the dry conditions, and penalties reach $2,000. The extreme fire danger already has the city of Vancouver under a smoking ban -- it went into effect right before the B.C. Day long weekend.
Another issue is the amount of people ignoring the current campfire ban. Enforcement officers found that dozens of people are lighting up, regardless of how critical the situation is with the wildfires.
Wednesday was another sizzler for the Interior. In fact, Lillooet was the hot spot for the country with the mercury hitting 35°C. However it looks like there could be relief in sight from the dry and hot conditions, because there's a risk for thundershowers throughout the Interior today. “The ridge is breaking down because of the trough, so with the pattern change we'll see temperatures dropping into the high teens and low twenties,” explains Dayna Vettese, a meteorologist with The Weather Network.
With files from CKNW AM980, The Canadian Press, News 1130