More evacuation orders are in effect for B.C. communities on Tuesday as the largest wildfire in the province continues to push back against crews trying to bring it under control.
The newest orders cover 16 more properties near the Savona and Copper Creek areas of Kamloops, east of Vancouver. Those properties join the 170 also ordered evacuated by the Thompson-Nicola Regional District and the Skeetchestn Indian Band.
The fire north of Kamloops, known as the Sparks Lake fire, is now roughly 402 square kilometres in size. The fire service said the flames “challenged” containment lines on Monday, leading crews to call in additional air support.
In the south Okanagan, the wildfire east of Skaha Lake now covers nine square kilometres. The service said Monday it has been burning southeast and away from the community of Okanagan Falls, southeast of Penticton, which made it safe enough for officials to lift the evacuation order in the area on Monday.
“Fortunately, at this time, we are not seeing the fire move in direction of the homes,” said Karla Kozakevich, chair of the Regional District of Okanagan-Similkameen.
People living on 77 affected properties have been allowed to return home, but evacuation alerts remain in place for their neighbourhood as well as nearly 700 properties along the southeast corner of the lake.
Skimmers and helicopters will still be flying over Skaha Lake on Tuesday to collect water to dump on the fire. Kozakevich said local RCMP sent one of its vessels onto the lake Monday to clear boaters out of the way, and again asked the public to stay off the lake as fire crews work.
Heat warnings staying in place
The wildfire service said more than 300 fires continue to burn across the province, including 20 that started over the last two days. Wildfire risk across most of B.C. is ranked as high or extreme.
Heat warnings issued Sunday for parts of the central and southern Interior will likely remain in place until Wednesday.
The bulletins from Environment Canada said daytime temperatures could reach as high as 38 C, with little relief overnight.
There are also air quality statements in effect for the same regions due to wildfire smoke.