Wind speed and direction have dramatically affected the state of fires in BC over the past two days, and Thursday’s forecast indicates it will continue to play an important role in fire behavior.
The BC Wildfire Service has issued wind tips for the inland, southern inland and southeastern parts of the province that run through Thursday night.
“Wind activity can significantly affect the development of fires in these areas,” says the consultant. “The rate of fire spread is likely to increase and the direction of fire development may change rapidly in some fires.”
Winds are expected to change direction on Thursday and gusts could reach up to 40 km / h in parts of the southern interior and 50-70 km / h in the southeast, creating potentially dangerous situations for firefighting as the fire chief shifts and H wind speed causes fires to spread.
Nearly 3,400 square kilometers of land have already been burned by fire since April 1.
Fire ecologist Robert Gray said the wind is essentially fueling the fires, which means Thursday will be a difficult day for firefighters.
“The fuel is already dry,” he said. “So we will see quite significant spread rates, large-scale detection and very, very dangerous conditions.”
Although fires tend to burn uphill, Gray said the wind could affect the fire to move it down.
The “heat dome” that covered much of western Canada in late June and early July, raising temperatures to record levels, pushed the start of the fire season about a month earlier, Gray said.
“We will see things change from year to year, with the trend getting worse,” he said.
“We will also see more of these extraordinary events like the ones we saw in July with the hot canopy and these trigger points happening earlier down the line. We will see things change constantly and, unfortunately, change for the worse. “
Thousands with evacuation order
As of Thursday morning, more than 4,300 properties have been ordered to be evacuated in BC, while about 17,700 more have said they are preparing to leave immediately.
On Wednesday afternoon, residents of the 356 properties in the central Kootenay communities of Edgewood and Needles had to leave immediately due to the growing Michaud Creek fire, which was last estimated at 26.7 square kilometers.
The New Lake fire, located southeast of the 70 Mile house, evacuated another 103 properties in the Bonaparte Plateau area of Thompson-Nicola district.
Earlier in the day, about 168 properties in Apple Grove and Fauquier’s Kootenay communities were ordered to evacuate due to the 32-square-kilometer Octopus Creek fire.
“Fires along the Columbia River around Edgewood, Apple Grove, have spread in all directions,” Gray said.
Anyone with an evacuation order must leave the area immediately.
Evacuation centers have been set up across the province to help anyone evacuated from a fire-threatened community. To find your nearest center, visit the Emergency Management BC website.
IDPs are encouraged to register online with emergency support services, regardless of whether they have access to services at an evacuation center.