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Rainfall feeds B.C. wildfire fight in multiple regions

BC Wildfire Service website shows 422 active fires across the province
Widespread rain in the forecast today throughout much of British Columbia’s southern Interior is expected to aid firefighters push back against a number of major wildfires in the region. A man sits under an umbrella on a dock while fishing for perch and whitefish on the Fraser River as rain falls, in Richmond, B.C., on Monday, July 24, 2023. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Darryl Dyck

Widespread rain across much of British Columbia’s southern Interior Thursday was expected to aid firefighters pushing back against a number of major wildfires in the region.

Officials in the Columbia Shuswap Regional District said Thursday that they’ve seen calmer and quieter conditions at the Bush Creek East fire near Chase, where the blaze remains at an estimated 430 square kilometres.

BC Wildfire Service information officer Mike McCulley said they’ve seen some rain and are expecting “really, really good firefighting weather” to continue Friday, though crews do have to keep an eye out for wet, slippery roads and possible erosion issues.

Environment Canada weather radar showed light to medium precipitation was falling Thursday from Merritt to Salmon Arm, stretching over parts of the Fraser Canyon, Central Okanagan and Shuswap regions.

There were also showers in communities including Kelowna, Lytton and Salmon Arm, all adjacent to major wildfires that have forced evacuation orders.

The cool, wet weather has already tempered blazes such as McDougall Creek in the Central Okanagan, Ross Moore Lake south of Kamloops and the Kookipi Creek fire near Lytton.

Officials in both the Thompson-Nicola and the Fraser Valley regional districts downgraded a number of evacuation orders linked to the Kookipi Creek wildfire to alerts on Wednesday, with the BC Wildfire Service saying some parts of the fire received up to 16 millimetres of rain.

Evacuation orders were also downgraded to alerts in the Bear Creek Road area of West Kelowna in relation to the McDougall Creek fire, as well as in Turtle Valley in the Thompson-Nicola region close to the Bush Creek East blaze.

In addition, previous alerts for residents to be prepared for evacuation on short notice have been cancelled in parts of Westbank First Nation and the Boucherie Industrial Area in the Central Okanagan.

Area restriction in several parts of the province’s southeast were rescinded Thursday due to decreased fire activity.

The BC Wildfire Service website shows 422 active fires across the province, with 195 burning out of control and 12 listed as “fires of note” due to their high visibility or potential threat to the public.

This year’s record wildfire season has already burned 19,111 square kilometres of land in B.C., with 72 per cent of the more than 2,000 fires recorded so far being triggered by lightning.

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