The White Rock Lake wildfire burns west of Vernon, B.C., on Thursday, Aug. 12, 2021. More than a dozen temperature records have fallen across southern and central British Columbia as a heat wave intensifies, adding to challenges facing crews battling nearly 270 wildfires in all corners of the province. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Darryl Dyck

A forecast for winds of up to 60 km/h on B.C. wildfires is a ‘direct threat to life’

A forecast for winds of up to 60 km/h on B.C. wildfires is a ‘direct threat to life’

Winds forecast to fan wildfires over the weekend in British Columbia are a “direct threat to life and property,” and the BC Wildfire Service is asking anyone in the path of the fires to use extreme caution.

Cliff Chapman, director of provincial operations for the wildfire service, says forecasters expect to see winds up to 30 kilometres per hour on Saturday and double that on Sunday, fanning the flames of some of British Columbia’s largest fires.

Chapman says if the winds arrive, they’ll see aggressive fire behaviour in forests that are tinder dry from recent heat waves, with the potential for embers to push out ahead of the blaze creating significant growth.

Public Safety Minister Mike Farnworth says the province is asking tourists to avoid parts of the Interior region, including the communities of Armstrong, Spallumcheen, the Okanagan Indian Band and parts of the Regional District of North Okanagan.

Farnworth says the government is taking the proactive step to make sure people in the communities will be able to evacuate and have a safe place to stay.

There are almost 270 wildfires burning in the province, and more than 6,200 properties have been evacuated because of the threat of a fire, while residents in about 27,000 properties have been placed on evacuation alert to be ready to leave.

This report by The Canadian Press was first published Aug. 13, 2021.

The Canadian Press

B.C. Wildfires 2021