February 23, 2022

Firefighters deployed to B.C. from Eastern Canada as nearly 200 fires burn across province | CBC News

Dozens of firefighters from Eastern Canada are expected to arrive in B.C. on Monday as nearly 200 wildfires continue to burn across the province.

The B.C. Wildfire Service said 100 incoming personnel from Ontario and New Brunswick will be assigned to B.C.’s Interior region, where many of the province’s most threatening fires have been burning for several days.

There were 196 active fires across the province as of early Monday, with at least 40 sparked over the weekend. Two-thirds of them are classified as out of control. 

Bill Blair, the federal minister for public safety and emergency preparedness, said on Twitter Sunday that the Canadian Armed Forces will also provide air support for areas affected by the wildfires until July 19.

WATCH | Fires continue to burn across B.C.:

‘We are still experiencing that hot weather … and we are also seeing the drying trend continue with fuels remaining highly susceptible to ignition,’ said B.C. provincial fire information officer Jean Strong. 4:59

Lytton residents to tour village

Meanwhile, residents of the village of Lytton and the surrounding area will have an opportunity to return to their communities this week after a catastrophic, fatal fire destroyed much of the area.

The Thompson-Nicola Regional District is organizing bus trips Wednesday to allow residents to survey the damage for themselves for the first time since the fire on June 30.

The shells of a minivan and pickup truck are seen in Lytton, B.C., after a catastrophic fire destroyed much of the village and surrounding communities on June 30. (Supplied by Jon Mundall)

The wildfire service said Sunday it believes the fire that devastated communities in and around Lytton was human caused. 

Fire information officer Erika Berg said Sunday the service suspects the fire came from within the village, but it could take weeks or months to finish the investigation.

RCMP investigators will be back in Lytton on Monday. 

“Human cause is definitely one of the speculations that we’re looking at, as opposed to natural [causes],” RCMP spokesperson Dawn Roberts told CBC.

Heat warnings continue

Elsewhere, an evacuation order remains in place for more than 100 homes 40 kilometres southwest of Kamloops, B.C., due to an out-of-control wildfire.

The Regional District of Central Kootenay said a wildfire burning near Castlegar, B.C., was under control and expected to be fully contained by Sunday night.

Environment Canada is maintaining heat warnings for several B.C. regions on Monday.

Daytime highs of 35 C and nighttime lows barely below 20 C increase the risk of wildfires due to drought conditions, the agency said.

Cliff Chapman, the director of provincial operations with the fire service, said crews are expecting temperatures to return to seasonal norms this week after a stretch of record-breaking heat without much rain.

Anyone placed under an evacuation order must leave the area immediately. 

Evacuation centres have been set up in the following locations to assist anyone evacuating from a community under threat from a wildfire: 

  • Castlegar: Castlegar Community Complex, 2102 6th Ave.
  • Chilliwack: Chilliwack Senior Secondary, 46363 Yale Rd.
  • Kelowna: Salvation Army, 1480 Sutherland Ave.
  • Merritt: Merritt Civic Centre, 1950 Mamette Ave.

Evacuees are encouraged to register with Emergency Support Services online, whether or not they access services at an evacuation centre. Those unable to access the online registration can call the Emergency Support Services registration at 1-800-585-9559.

Those looking for loved ones can contact the Canadian Red Cross for family reunification services at 1-800-863-6582.

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