Canada — Officials say 60 new forest fires started in B.C. over the past several days.
Hot, dry weather and lightning are blamed for many of the new fires, but B.C.’s forests minister said there are still too many human-caused fires.
Pat Bell said that on Thursday alone, 13 of the 32 new wildfires reported were started by people.
Bell said most of the fires were contained to under one hectare but one fire east of Dease Lake, in northern B.C., grew to 3.5 square kilometres.
Elsewhere, a fire in Tweedsmuir Provincial Park, in B.C.’s central Interior, has grown to an estimated five square kilometres. The fire was expected to grow overnight with high winds in the forecast.
The fire is burning in a remote area and is not threatening any infrastructure. Officials said the fire would be monitored closely but left to burn naturally, as per the park’s wildfire management plan.
The Cariboo Fire Centre is expecting thunderstorms, high winds and hot temperatures to continue over the next week. Patrol planes will be scanning the region for any new fires, while firefighters and heavy machinery will be on standby.
Over 60 per cent of the province is at the high or extreme fire-danger rating now up from just 19 per cent last week.
During the hot, dry summer of 2009, there were 3,409 fires sparked across B.C. Of those, an estimated 850 were likely caused by people and 213 were close to some type of building or structure.
The fires resulted in 27 evacuation alerts and nine evacuation orders. Seven buildings and homes were destroyed. At one point, several wildfires burning simultaneously in the Okanagan region forced 11,000 people from their homes.
The final bill for the year was estimated at $400 million.