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Cooler weather sees B.C. wildfire numbers dip, but drought still poses concern

Significant blazes in multiple B.C. locations, as record wildfire season continues

The number of active wildfires in British Columbia has dipped below 450 as cooler weather and recent rain has cut the fire risk, although another hot spell could wipe out those gains as large sections of the province wilt under severe drought.

The BC Wildfire Service website shows only small pockets of extreme wildfire risk, mainly in southeastern B.C., where almost no rain fell earlier this week.

Wildfire crews in B.C. have tamed a pair of wildfires in the province’s Cariboo region, but continue to grapple with stubborn blazes burning out of control elsewhere.

Three of B.C.’s 23 wildfires of note, which are blazes that are highly visible or potentially damaging, are located in southeastern B.C., including the suspected lightning-caused fire that broke out Monday west of Invermere.

Here’s a rundown of recent activity around the province

* A wildfire in southeastern British Columbia that was first spotted Monday afternoon has charred nine square kilometres and is threatening more than 1,000 properties, including a ski resort, west of Invermere.

The BC Wildfire Service says the fire is burning in the mountains 10 kilometres west of Invermere and seven kilometres north of Panorama Mountain Resort.

The Regional District of East Kootenay ordered evacuations late Monday for 25 properties and several recreation sites, while those at 1,000 other properties, including the resort, have been told to be ready to leave on short notice.

* Strong winds are complicating firefighting efforts at the St. Mary’s River wildfire, but the wildfire service says control lines are holding on the 41-square-kilometre blaze, while evacuation orders and alerts are still posted.

* South of Kamloops, officials say cooler weather and a trace of rain helped calm the 26-square-kilometre Ross Moore Lake wildfire, but flames have claimed at least one remote cabin, while more than 300 properties remain on evacuation order.

* The Cariboo Regional District on Tuesday issued a new evacuation alert covering more than 320 square kilometres in the Anahim Peak area, but downgraded an evacuation order to an alert related to the Townsend Creek wildfire.

That fire is now classified as “being held” at about 27 square kilometres and isn’t expected to grow.

* The BC Wildfire Service said the Branch Road wildfire is also now “being held,” though the Cariboo Regional District’s evacuation alert for the area remains in place.

* The service said Tuesday it’s continuing to battle the out-of-control Young Creek wildfire, though they along with provincial transportation crews determined it safe to reopen the highway between Bella Coola and Anahim Lake between 10 a.m. and 6 p.m.

The wildfire service reports more than 450 active fires across B.C., most caused by lightning, with 264 ranked as out of control.

Almost 15,000 square kilometres of land has burned, surpassing a record set at the end of the 2018 wildfire season.

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