The British Columbia Wildfire Service says hot and dry weather is contributing to “extreme fire behaviour” in the southern Interior as a ridge of high pressure settled over the province this week, sending temperatures soaring and further drying fuel in the forests.
Neal McLoughlin, with the predictive services unit of the wildfire service, says the ridge of high pressure bringing the heat is expected to break down in a few days in the Interior.
But he says once the unseasonable heat is over, the breakdown of the high-pressure ridge could bring strong winds, a cold front and dry lightning.
He says the lightning could start more fires that would spread quickly with shifting winds and has the service “very concerned.”
McLoughlin says wildfire crews are continuing to do controlled burn work and urged people to report any wildfire activity as early as possible to give firefighters a leg up to deal with new ignitions.
There are about 370 wildfires burning in the province and 149 of those remain out of control, with 13 considered of note, meaning they are highly visible or threaten communities.
The service says a half dozen new fires in Strathcona Provincial Park on Vancouver Island were caused by lightning strikes, and they are being monitored for now.
The wildfire service and emergency crews had to evacuate about 80 people on Wednesday from Cathedral Provincial Park outside Keremeos due to wildfires.
Two fires in the area, the Casper Creek wildfire and the Gillanders Creek wildfire, merged amid high winds on Tuesday, growing to about 100 square kilometres and prompting evacuation alerts and orders by the Regional District Okanagan-Similkameen.