There were at least 21 fires that started in British Columbia on Sunday. There were 36 Saturday. There were 32 Friday. There are 178 burning right now.
A haze blankets the majority of people in B.C., as winds bring smoke from fires in Pemberton to people in Vancouver and Victoria. The Metro Vancouver Air Quality Health Index went to 10+, or “Very High Risk” on Sunday night.
And undoubtedly, there will be more fires to come in the days and weeks ahead.
“Why we’ve seen this severe situation so early has been the weather conditions,” says Kevin Skrepnek, Provincial Fire Information Officer, who added that lightning has also played a big part in many of the fires.
“Almost all of the lower mainland, most of the Vancouver Island, and big areas of northeastern and central B.C. are in extreme fire danger rating. It’s unusual for this time of year [and] there’s no relief in sight in the weather forecast. We’re expecting temperatures in the mid-30s, and absolutely no rain in the near future. That’s definitely cause for concern.”
The B.C. Wildfire Centre also has a list of all active fires for the entire province.
In Metro Vancouver, there was one new major fire on Burnaby Mountain – and it was the first full weekend of enhanced water restrictions in the region, and officials warned that they would likely continue for some time.
“We’re in areas where we’ve never been before,” says Darrell Mussatto, Mayor of North Vancouver and Chair of Metro Vancouver’s Utilities Committee.
“We’ve never had a dry May and June like we’ve just had…we’re at record low inflows into our reservoirs.”
The B.C. Wildfire Service also warned that smoke from two lightning-caused wildfires could drift into the communities of Bella Coola, Houston, Burns Lake, Southside and Francois Lake.
The Kapella River fire had burned about 600 to 1,000 hectares about 77 kilometres northwest of Bella Coola, while the Europa Lake fire had burned about 10 hectares about 86 kilometres southeast of Kitimat.