Wind speed and direction have dramatically affected the forest fire situation in BC for the past two days, and Thursday’s forecast shows that it will continue to play an important role in fire behavior.
The BC Wildfire Service has issued a wind warning for the interior, southern interior, and southeastern regions of the province that will last until Thursday night.
“Wind activity can have a significant impact on fire growth in these regions,” the recommendation says. “The rate of fire spread is likely to increase, and the direction of fire growth can change rapidly in some forest fires.”
The wind is expected to change direction on Thursday and gusts could reach up to 40 km / h in parts of the southern inland and 50-70 km / h in the southeast, creating potentially dangerous fire fighting situations as the The head of the fires shifts and the wind speed causes the fires to spread.
Almost 3,400 square kilometers of land have been burned by forest fires since April 1st.
Fire ecologist Robert Gray said wind essentially feeds forest fires, which means Thursday will be a challenging day for firefighters.
“The fuels are already dry,” he said. “So we’re going to see pretty significant rates of spread, long-range spotting, and very, very dangerous conditions.”
Although fires tend to burn uphill, Gray said wind could affect the fire to move downhill.
The “heat dome,” which covered much of western Canada in late June and early July, and temperatures soared to record levels, kicked off the wildfire season about a month earlier, Gray said.
“We will see things change and the situation worsen year after year,” he said.
“We’re also going to see more of these extraordinary events as we saw them in July with the heat dome and those trigger tipping points occurring earlier. We will see that things keep changing and unfortunately change for the worse. “
Thousands on evacuation orders
As of Thursday morning, more than 4,300 BC homes had been ordered to evacuate, while an estimated 17,700 more had been asked to prepare for immediate departure.
On Wednesday afternoon, residents of 356 lots in the central Kootenay parishes of Edgewood and Needles were told to leave immediately because of the growing forest fire on Michaud Creek, which was last estimated at 26.7 square kilometers.
The fire at Young Lake, southeast of 70 Mile House, resulted in the evacuation of an additional 103 properties in the Bonaparte Plateau area of the Thompson-Nicola County.
Earlier in the day, the evacuation of approximately 168 lots in the Kootenay parishes of Apple Grove and Fauquier was ordered due to the 32 square kilometer Octopus Creek wildfire.
“The fires along the Columbia River, around Edgewood, Apple Grove, have spread in all directions,” said Gray.
Anyone who is subject to an evacuation order must leave the area immediately.
Evacuation centers have been set up across the province to help anyone evacuated from a community threatened by wildfire. To find the closest center, visit Emergency Management BC’s website.
Evacuees are encouraged to register with the emergency services online, whether or not they are using the services of an evacuation center.