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article imageNearly 1,000 homes on evacuation alert in B.C. due to wildfires

By Karen Graham     Jul 21, 2018 in Environment
Kelowna - Some 123 fires are burning across the province, of which 41 are in the Kamloops Fire Centre, which includes the Okanagan. There are also significant wildfires raging in central and southeast B.C. and in Ontario.
People living in nearly 1,000 homes have already been forced to leave or must be prepared to leave at a moments notice as 41 wildfires blaze in British Columbia's scenic Okanagan region.
Located in B.C.'s southern interior, the region is defined by the basin of Okanagan Lake and the Canadian portion of the Okanagan River. It is part of the Okanagan Country, extending into the United States as Okanogan County in north-central Washington state.
The Okanagan region, also a wine-growing region, includes the cities of Kelowna, Penticton, and Vernon. According to the BC Wildfire Service, the highest levels of fire activity are in the Okanagan, Prince George, and southeastern regions, reports CBC Canada.
Evening winds have created challenging flying conditions resulting in some growth on several fires. ...
Evening winds have created challenging flying conditions resulting in some growth on several fires. This photo was taken yesterday evening over the Law Creek wildfire.
B.C. Wildfire Service
A lightning storm earlier last week sparked multiple wildfires that resulted in one major blaze, the Mount Eneas fire near Peachland, growing in size to 10 square kilometers (3.86 square miles).
“Things are quite busy right now and the situation down there is pretty volatile,” said Chief Fire Information Officer Kevin Skrepnek, speaking from Kamloops, just north of the Okanagan, reports the National Post.
"We are definitely fully engaged down there, but comparing it to where we were at, at this time in 2017, definitely a very different fire season," he said. "You know at this stage last year the entire city of Williams Lake was evacuated, tens of thousands of people displaced. We had many massive fires burning out of control throughout the Interior."
B.C. fire crews are being redistributed across the province, as needed and 200 crew members are being sent to help with wildfires in Ontario and Quebec earlier than expected, returning them to B.C. by midway through next week, said Skrepnek.
Erick Thompson, information officer for Okanagan-Similkameen’s emergency operation center assured visitors and vacationers the region was still open for business.
“I think the most important thing for people who are thinking of coming to the area or have plans to come here is just to do their research and find out what is affecting or may be affecting their plans,” he said.
Ontario wildfires update
Fire crews in northeastern Ontario have a busy weekend ahead of them after eight fires were sparked by lightning strikes last night, bringing the total number of blazes to at least 65 — 34 of which remain out of control.
Mandatory evacuations of the Key Harbour area and the municipality of Killarney south of the French River Provincial Park were ordered after the Parry Sound 33 fire more than quadrupled in size Friday to 19 square kilometers (7.3 square miles).
Dozens of planes and helicopters have been employed to battle the fires, and Ontario fire crews are also getting help on the ground from firefighters who've come from across Canada, as well as the United States and Mexico.
More about British columbia, Ontario, Wildfires, Wine country, okanagan
 
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