BRITISH COLUMBIA

B.C. Fires Fuelled By Wind In Okanagan

07/21/2015 01:28 EDT | Updated 07/21/2016 05:59 EDT
KAMLOOPS, B.C. - New lightning-sparked fires fuelled by high winds are threatening properties in British Columbia's Okanagan region.

The Westside Road fire near Kelowna has burned more than four square kilometres and forced residents to evacuation from 70 properties in the area.

Regional District spokesman Bruce Smith says the fire has come very close to some structures.

"But at this point, even though it is an active fire, we are not aware of any structures known to be lost."

kelowna fire

Photo by Shawn Talbot Photography

Two other fires burning in the Okanagan region near Ashcroft and Falkland have also forced officials to place some residents onto evacuation alert.

Provincial Fire Officer Kevin Skrepnek says amphibious air tankers were being used to fight the Westside Road fire, but the Martin Mars water bomber that drops up to 27,000 litres in one pass had yet to be called into service Monday afternoon for those fires.

"There hasn't been a need identified for (the Mars) at this point, but we have brought it back on for a 30-day contract, so we could potentially be seeing it in action in the next few days."

Skrepnek says most of the 115 new blazes discovered Monday were caused by lightning across southern B.C.

"This is definitely a significant number, by any measure, to see in a single day."

He says 259 blazes are burning throughout the province, bringing this season's wildfire number to 1,275.

More than 2,200 people are currently working to fight the fires, including about 100 people from Ontario who are nearing the end of their tour, and will soon need to be replaced.

Skrepnek says others from Ontario will likely come to take their place.

Fire bans in northern B.C. were lifted Monday, meaning camp fires and outdoor stoves can once again be used around Prince George, Dawson Creek, Fort St. James and Cassiar.

Fireworks and fire crackers are still prohibited in the Prince George and northwest fire centres.

Camp fire bans are still in effect throughout the Cariboo, Kamloops, southeast and most of the coastal fire centres.

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