Weekend to be ‘very challenging’ for firefighters

The Plateau fire in the Chilcotin. B.C. Wildfire Service photo
The Plateau fire in the Chilcotin. B.C. Wildfire Service photo

BY BILL PHILLIPS
bill@pgdailynews.ca

September usually brings lower temperatures. However, this year is going to be different as Environment Canada is predicting many temperature records will fall across the province this long weekend.

And that means trouble for the 3,800 firefighters battling the province’s wildfires.

“What we’re going to see for the next few days is going to be potentially unprecedented,” said provincial fire information officer Kevin Skrepnek. “Tomorrow, (Saturday) we bracing for it to be a very challenging day.”

A high pressure ridge has settled over the lower half of the province and very little rain is expected.

Currently there are 161 fires burning in the province, including 22 fire that started yesterday. Most of those were in the southeast corner of the province.

Since April 1, there have been 1,181 fires in the province which have burned 1,080,941 hectares, making it the worst fire season in history.

The cost of battling the fires is currently at $435.1 million.

The Diamond Creek fire is causing quite a bit of smoke in the southern interior. The fire has moved up from the Unite States and is 2,000 hectares in size on this side of the border and 24,000 overall.

The Plateau in the north Chilcotin, the largest in the province, has burned 492,993 hectares. Skrepnek said there hasn’t been any real growth in that fire over the past few days and close to 600 workers are battling that fire.

The Hanceville/Riske has burned 238,000 hectares and is 35 per cent contained.

The Elephant Hill has burned 186,800 hectares and is 50 per cent contained.

“It will provide some significant challenges tomorrow,” Skrepnek said.

The B.C. Wildfire Service is strongly recommending people stay out of the backcountry in the southern portions of the province.

The province has extended the provincial state of emergency because of the wildfires.