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Rain carries threat of lightning over B.C. fires

·2 min read

Wildfire crews in British Columbia's southern Interior braced Friday for possible lightning this weekend, after several days of light winds and few thunderstorms helped trim the number of active fires in the province by about 20 per cent.

The BC Wildfire Service says 242 wildfires were burning, down from about 300 last week.

But heat warnings or special weather statements covered much of the province packing temperatures from the low 30s in the northeast to 40 C in the Fraser Canyon and Boundary regions.

Rob Schweitzer, director of fire centre operations with the wildfire service, warned that the heat, along with limited cooling at night, could contribute to severe burning conditions before easing.

Environment Canada predicted possible showers for Metro Vancouver as early as Friday night with the chance of precipitation spreading through the southern Interior over the long weekend.

But lightning was also in the forecast for regions already ranked at high to extreme risk of wildfires.

Emergency Management BC said 60 evacuation orders covering just over 3,000 properties remained in effect, while residents of nearly 19,000 other properties were told to be ready to leave on short notice.

The Thompson-Nicola Regional District issued an evacuation order Friday morning for 125 properties northwest of Clinton in response to the Flat Lake wildfire, which was classified as out of control and burning across nearly 396 square kilometres.

Evacuation orders were downgraded to alerts late Thursday for several properties near a 654-square kilometre wildfire northwest of Kamloops. But the wildfire service said that blaze and most of the nearly three dozen listed as fires of note remained out of control and continued to challenge firefighters on at least one flank.

The B.C. government also said Friday it's working with the Red Cross to provide one-time payments of $2,000 to households that fled the wildfire that destroyed much of the village of Lytton a month ago. All other households under a mandatory evacuation order for longer than 10 consecutive days during this wildfire season will also be eligible to receive a one-time payment of $1,200.

Applications for the funds will be accepted until 30 days after the order is lifted.

Nearly 490 people from the Lytton First Nation and almost 800 people from the village of Lytton have registered for B.C.'s emergency support services.

This report by The Canadian Press was first published July 30, 2021.

The Canadian Press

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