NEWS

B.C. fires: Crews get a little weekend relief from cooler weather

07/11/2015 02:18 EDT | Updated 07/11/2016 05:59 EDT
Showers and cooler weather are providing some welcome relief for firefighters battling wildfires across British Columbia.

On Saturday, lower temperatures and clouds brought much needed rain to many parts of B.C.

But fire information officer Kevin Skrepnek said it would take a profound weather shift to make any kind of impact on the larger fires burning in B.C. such as those that have been devouring forests in Williams Lake, Pemberton and Nelson.

Skrepnek said there were 67 more fires started yesterday mainly due to lightning, but most of them were kept to less than one hectare.

Right now there are about 240 active wildfires that continue to burn across the province. Skrepnek said more than 1,000 fires have started since April 1.

About 2,000 people, including contractors and fire crews from Ontario, are fighting the wildfires and a crew of about 50 from Australia is expected to join them next week.

More than $100 million has been spent on fighting fires so far this season, Skrepnek said.

Smoke has dissipated throughout the province, and air quality advisories for Metro Vancouver and parts of Vancouver Island have ended, said provincial health officer Dr. Perry Kendall.

"Basically, the air quality is getting better and people can go back to their normal exercise routines," Kendall said.

People with underlying respiratory issues, or heart and lung problems, should still be cautious in smoky areas such as Kamloops, Comox and Whistler, he said.

Water restrictions in effect

Many municipalities around the province have imposed water restrictions during the unseasonably hot, dry weather.

Vancouver residents could be fined $250 for watering more than once a week or outside the hours of 4 a.m. to 9 a.m., and lawn watering has been banned in Abbotsford, where a so-called sprinkler patrol is enforcing restrictions.

On Vancouver Island, Parksville and the Regional District of Nanaimo brought in strict watering restrictions this week, prohibiting all lawn watering, vehicle and pressure washing, and the filling of swimming or wading pools.

The move was necessary because of low water reserves during dry conditions and a much lower-than-normal snow pack, said City of Parksville spokeswoman Debbie Tardiff.

"This is being done so that we don't run out of water," she said.

Starting July 20, residents could be fined $100 for breaking a water restrictions bylaw, but Tardiff said people have taken the new rules well so far.

"I think there's some pride in letting your lawn go brown."

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