BC Wildfire Service crews are currently battling two fires in the interior of the province as an unprecedented heat wave continues to sweep across much of British Columbia.
The Sparks Lake fire, about an hour northwest of Kamloops, has forced nine properties in Electoral District J on alert for evacuation, and the George Road fire is currently burning about seven kilometers south of Lytton.
Both fires are classified as out of control by the BC Wildfire Service, meaning they are not responding to suppression efforts.
According to fire information officer Madison Smith, the Sparks Lake fire started on Monday afternoon and covered 180 hectares (1.8 square kilometers) on Tuesday morning.
Speaking to CBC Radio on Tuesday, Smith said, “When our first crew arrived at the site, it was four hectares in size… It was very dry and hot there and due to the bad weather, it grew quickly.”
“I can’t believe how fast it’s moving.”
Marshall Potts and Jo Ann Beharrell live about one kilometer from the Sparks Lake fire in Red Lake.
The couple believe they may have been the first to discover the fire and report it to officials on Monday.
“I can’t believe how fast she’s moving,” Beharel told CBC Radio from her home on Tuesday morning. “I felt like I was starting to have tears,” she said, when she called the authorities to alert them to the fire.
The couple lost power to their home just before 10pm on Monday after nearby power lines caught fire. They, along with their many cows and chickens, are on alert for evacuation.
An eviction alert has been issued by the Thompson-Nicola Regional District for nine properties in the “J” electoral district. For more information and a map of the evacuation area, please visit the emergency information webpage TNRD : https://t.co/INWnFzPvtd
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Smith said 20 firefighters were at the site last night, trying to contain every aspect of the fire and protect structures that might be threatened. As of Tuesday morning, another 40 personnel were on their way along with heavy equipment and three helicopters.
She said the Sparks Lake fire is suspected to be man-made, but a full investigation still needs to be done to be sure.
While the terrain around the Sparks Lake fire is relatively flat, Smith said some of the terrain around the George Road fire features steep cliffs of shale that crews cannot access.
Smith said the blaze, which lasted as of Tuesday morning on an area of 350 hectares (3.5 square kilometers), has nine firefighters working where the ground is not very dangerous. Helicopters assist in areas where the fire has spread to slopes and where it is not safe for their crews to operate.
Smith did not say what was suspected of causing the George Street fire.
I’ve noticed that the scorching temperatures in the area mean crews must take frequent breaks to avoid heat exhaustion.
Beginning at noon (Pacific time) on Wednesday, June 30, 2021, Class 2 and Class 3 campfires and open fires will be prohibited throughout the province of British Columbia. pic.twitter.com/co5HJq6nTM
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Breaking temperature records
Temperatures in British Columbia broke records this week.
Lytton had a temperature of 47.9C late Monday afternoon, according to Environment Canada. For context, that’s hotter than the highest temperature ever recorded in Las Vegas, at around 47.2 degrees Celsius, and nearly eight degrees higher than the highest recorded in Leighton before this year.
“We’re clearly a little ahead of the schedule for these hot, dry conditions,” Smith said. “Going forward, we’re just going to beef up our resources and prepare even more.”
Click here for the BC Wildfire Service’s interactive map of current fires.
For updates on the electoral district J eviction alert, visit the Thompson-Nicola Regional District website.
6:38Massive fire out of control in Kamloops