KAMLOOPS, B.C. — With ongoing hot and dry conditions, the number of B.C. wildfires this season has risen to more than 900.
It has been more than a month since the province declared a state of emergency and so far it is the second worst fire season in B.C. history.
According to emergency officials, the fires have destroyed 71 homes, 116 outbuildings and three commercial buildings. Hundreds of firefighters have been pouring in from Australia, New Zealand, Mexico and the U.S. to help relieve local crews.
The massive fires aren’t just affecting the Interior.
Smoke from the fires has drifted all the way to the southern coast, causing air quality warnings for Metro Vancouver. B.C.’s Air Quality Health Index measures how safe it is to breathe on a scale from one to 10.
Kamloops’ air quality reached unprecedented levels, literally going off the charts with a rating of 49 during parts of this month.
Officials have told those with respiratory conditions, the elderly and small children to either stay indoors or avoid strenuous activity.
Forecasts, as of press deadline, were offering little relief with no significant precipitation predicted, however, winds are expected to change to clear out smoke blanketing the south coast.
Despite the raging fires, there was some good news from the Interior. The Cariboo Regional District and the Xatsull — Cmetem First Nations announced that residents are allowed to return to portions of the Central Cariboo area near Williams Lake. Before deciding to return, residents are encouraged to consider that wildfire activity continues in these areas, air quality remains poor and the areas are still on evacuation alert.
The Vancouver Regional Construction Association also continues to raise funds through its here4bc.ca campaign, which is challenging the Canadian construction industry to donate $1 million directly to the Canadian Red Cross British Columbia Fires Appeal by Aug. 31.
As of press time the latest total was $124,160.