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Long-awaited rain, clearing smoke ahead for southern B.C. wildfires

Heat to give way to cooler, unsettled weather over long weekend
Helicopter takes off from the B.C. Wildfire Service Southeast Fire Centre in Castlegar, July 21, 2021. (B.C. government photo)

Hot weather through Friday is expected to shift to cooler, windier conditions that should clear smoke-filled skies and bring some rain to wildfires across the parched Southern Interior of B.C., the B.C. Wildfire Service says.

“Today and tomorrow will be hot, and severe burning conditions will be seen in the south half of the province, and there will be overnight burning on these incidents,” Rob Schweitzer, director of fire centre operations for B.C. Wildfire Service, said in an update with emergency management officials on Thursday, July 29. “Then come Saturday and Sunday, we anticipate a change in the weather. We are also anticipating some lightning, and are monitoring this closely for new fire starts. The incoming system will bring rain, and this change continues into next week with overall cooler temperatures in the southern Interior.”

Poor visibility from smoke has severely hampered aircraft operations on southern B.C. wildfires, but with no lightning-caused new fires or high winds in recent days, progress has been made on the number and size of fires, Schweitzer said. As of Thursday there are 245 active wildfires, 15 of which are considered human-caused, and emergency management staff are concerned about a surge in travel during the B.C. Day weekend.

Provincial health officer Dr. Bonnie Henry warned that hot temperatures will continue into the night, and people should keep blinds and windows closed until the outside temperature is cooler than inside their homes.

Relief has already come to northern B.C., where the province-wide campfire ban was lifted for the Prince George and Northwest fire centres.

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