A new wildfire in British Columbia has forced the evacuation of nearly 80 properties, while residents of hundreds more homes around the south Okanagan lakeside community of Okanagan Falls have been ordered to be ready to go on short notice.
The B.C. Wildfire Service said flames in the hills on the southeast side of Skaha Lake, east of Okanagan Falls, were reported Sunday and had charred an estimated five square kilometres of the rural area within hours.
The wildfire service said eight firefighters, two helicopters and numerous pieces of heavy equipment were at the scene before dusk and worked through the night.
Skaha Lake is south of Penticton in B.C.’s Okanagan Valley.
The suspected human-caused fire is one of more than 300 currently burning across B.C., including 35 of them sparked since Saturday. Two-thirds were started by lightning.
The wildfire service said 25 fires are ranked as especially threatening or visible. Those fires include the newly spawned Okanagan Falls fire; the devastating fire that destroyed the village of Lytton; and another north of Kamloops that has scorched 402 square kilometres of bush in just two weeks.
Heat warnings return
Wildfire risk across most of B.C. is ranked high or extreme. Environment Canada has issued another round of heat warnings for parts of the central and southern Interior, including the region where crews are still battling the 88-square-kilometre fire that levelled Lytton.
Heat warnings issued Sunday by the weather office call for above-seasonal daytime temperatures of 33 C to 38 C, and only moderately cooler conditions overnight.
“Heat warnings are issued when very high temperature or humidity conditions are expected to pose an elevated risk of heat illnesses, such as heat stroke or heat exhaustion,” the Environment Canada warning said.
The warnings are expected to remain in effect until Wednesday.