07/05/2015 12:51 EDT | Updated 07/05/2016 05:59 EDT

B.C. wildfires rage across province, blanketing communities in smoke

B.C. has seen more than 60 new wildfires over the weekend that have put people out of their homes or on evacuation alert, resulting in several communities declaring states of emergency.

Smoke from the burning wildfires cast an early morning haze over Vancouver Sunday morning.

Three of the new fires are in the Kootenays in southeastern B.C.,  where an evacuation order has been issued for about 350 homes along Highway 3A between Stikum Creek and Willow Point.

The 150-hectare fire is visible from the town of Nelson. 

Two other fires are also burning in the Kootenays.

An evacuation order has also been issued for a 200-hectare fire east of Lake Koocanusa, 1.5 kilometres east of Baynes Lake and Highwway 93 southeast of Cranbrook. A smaller 50-hectare fire is burning north of Highway 95 between Harrogate and Brisco.

Evacuation near Kelowna partially lifted

An evacuation order in effect for the Huckleberry fire burning in Joe rich east of Kelowna has now been lifted for all but 30 properties. That fire, which had been at 80 hectares, is now 100 per cent contained.

The small town of Port Hardy on Vancouver Island continues to fight a 16-hectare wildfire burning just 1.5 kilometres from the town and less than 300 metres from some homes in the area. 

An evacuation order there affects about 100 homes along Mayors Way and Upper Carnarvon down to Park Drive. The fire is being fought by ground crews and from the air, officials said.

Residents are being asked to restrict water use to only what is essential.

Boulder Creek wildfire leads to evacuations

An evacuation order was also issued midday Saturday for two pumice mines, one of which is no longer operational due to the Boulder Creek wildfire burning 23 kilometres northwest of Pemberton. A local state of emergency was also declared.

The 500-hectare lightning-caused fire is burning in steep terrain and heavy timber, and none of it is contained, officials reported. It is still in a remote area and no residences or agricultural properties are affected by the evacuation order.

Wildfire near Ashcroft

A 28-hectare wildfire temporarily shut down Highway 1 near Ashcroft Saturday.

Thirty-one firefighters were deployed to the blaze in the Venables Valley south of Ashcroft and west of Highway 1. One helicopter and three air tankers are working that fire.

That fire is now 100 per cent contained.

The B.C. Wildfire Management Branch reported Saturday that attendees to a nearby music festival were moved out of the area as a precaution.

Province-wide fire ban

Most of the province has now been declared an extreme fire risk and B.C. is under a province-wide ban on all fires and campfires.

A Level 4 drought rating is  in effect for southern Vancouver Island and the Gulf Islands, meaning water supplies are insufficient to meet the needs of communities and ecosystems. 

Even traditionally moist Coastal B.C. is at Level 2 and 3 drought conditions on the four-stage drought rating which means residents are required to try to cut water use by another 20 per cent over regular reductions.

There are more than 60 wildfires greater than 10 hectares burning in B.C. and at least 171 total active wildfires.

B.C. wildfires of note