B.C. Wildfire Service says smoke still concern despite fewer blazes

About 481 fires were still active in the province on Thursday, down from 550 blazes mid-season

Smoke from wildfires in British Columbia remains an issue even as fewer blazes are burning, a provincial fire official says.

Kevin Skrepnek, chief fire information officer for the B.C. Wildfire Service, said 481 fires were still active in the province on Thursday, down from 550 blazes at the height of the season.

Newer fires are smaller, and cooler weather is helping, he said.

“The worst is definitely over at this point. But there’s still a lot of work that remains to be done. A lot of large fires are still burning.”

The Tweedsmuir complex fire, in the west-central region of B.C., is currently the largest, and is a combination of blazes.

A record-setting 13,000 square kilometres have been charred by wildfires this year, surpassing just over 12,000 square kilometres burned during the 2017 season, when more people were forced from their homes.

A monster blaze near Shovel Lake, which grew to more than 900 square kilometres over the past month, is unlikely to grow any further.

While a forecast of cooler, wetter weather means some campfire bans in effect across British Columbia could soon be lifted, Skrepnek said more rain is critical.

“We need to see that widespread steady rain to hit the reset switch on the situation.”

Environment Canada has forecast several days of rain starting Saturday in Prince George, Fort Nelson, Fort St. John, Kelowna, and Grand Forks.

The Canadian Press

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