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BC Wildfire Service hoping for weekend rain as 150 fires continue to burn

Hot, dry conditions continue to make things difficult for firefighters in BC.

“We have 150 wildfires burning across the province,” says Kevin Skrepnek, chief fire information officer for the BC Wildfire Service. “That includes 20 new fires yesterday. Most of the new fires yesterday are the result of lightning, activity particularly in the southeast, in the Kootenays. Happy to report, no major new fires as a result of that activity.”

More than 3,600 people are currently fighting the wildfires, including over 600 from out of province and 1,400 contractors from the forest industry. Ground crews are being supported 227 aircraft.

“Since April 1, we’ve responded to 942 fires across the province that have burned an estimated 613,000 hectares of land,” says Skrepnek. “Cost to date for the BC Wildfire Service currently estimated at $254 million.”

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After weeks of hot, dry weather, Skrepnek says the high-pressure system that’s been sitting above the province could be moving on soon.

“From now until Thursday, continued sunny and hot conditions. Extensive smoke remains lingering throughout the southern part of the province. Unfortunately, there is a risk of lightning across most of southern BC over the next few days. It is a small risk – the more focused areas of concern are in the southeast and northeast parts of the province. Thankfully winds are expected to remain generally light although there certainly will be some gustiness around any thunder showers.”

A significant shift in the weather is possible on Friday and parts of the province could see rain but Skrepnek says that change in the weather pattern is likely to bring wind, while the rain could be accompanied by lightning.

“Saturday we expect the rain to start settling in, particularly on the coast with some scattered isolated showers throughout the interior. How much rain is going to fall with that system, how long it will linger for and what kind of effect it has on our wildfires in that area – very much to be determined at this point. Rain is real wild card to try and forecast this far out.”

Skrepnek says whether the rain is a help or hindrance will largely depend on whether it comes with lightning and high winds.

“Certainly, getting some rain on these fires would be welcome but if we’re getting unstable weather with it, it might be a bit of a mixed blessing.”

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