A helicopter carrying a water bucket flies past the Lytton Creek wildfire burning in the mountains near Lytton, B.C., on Aug. 15. (Darryl Dyck/Canadian Press)

A helicopter carrying a water bucket flies past the Lytton Creek wildfire burning in the mountains near Lytton, B.C., on Aug. 15. (Darryl Dyck/Canadian Press)

Total active wildfires climb in B.C., but crews exploit cooler weather in fire fight

Crews are making progress against several destructive wildfires in British Columbia even as the latest statistics show the total number of fires in the province is edging toward 300 again.

Data from the Ministry of Forests and Emergency Management BC show 291 wildfires were blazing in the province late Wednesday and more than 8,500 square kilometres of land has been lost since the start of the fire season on April 1.

An evacuation alert was replaced by an “all clear” notice late Wednesday for more than 400 properties on the northwest flank of the roughly 811 square kilometre White Rock Lake fire east of Kamloops.

On the northeast flank, the City of Armstrong has lifted an evacuation alert for about 5,000 residents but other evacuation orders and alerts are still posted — including one along the northwest shores of Okanagan Lake where flames destroyed more than 70 properties this week.

The BC Wildfire Service says 3,849 firefighters and other personnel, including 539 from outside the province, are battling wildfires in all areas of B.C., with the focus on the hard-hit Kamloops and Southeast fire centres.

They are being helped by cooler conditions and a chance of showers through Sunday, but temperatures are set to rise over much of southern B.C. next week, while the fire danger map shows risk in the Kamloops centre has returned to moderate from low after last week’s rain.

— The Canadian Press

Wildfires