Wildfires claim more structures in B.C., while human-caused blazes raise concern

By The Canadian Press

KAMLOOPS, B.C. – The same fire that destroyed dozens of homes near Ashcroft six weeks ago has now consumed structures in the Green Lake area almost 100 kilometres away.

Thompson-Nicola Regional District spokeswoman Debbie Sell says the fire is 1,680 square kilometre in size and still active in the region.

She says downed power lines have added to the danger in the area and officials have not been able to access the site to determine what has been lost.

Sell says affected property owners will be contacted as soon as specifics of damage are available.

The wildfire service reports at least 10 wildfires have broken out in the last 24 hours, including six believed to have been caused by humans.

One of those blazes was in the Naramata area, just north of Penticton and Naramata Fire Chief Tony Trovao says crews were lucky to knock it down quickly.

The fire was reported at around midnight Tuesday, a few kilometres off the Kettle Valley Railway Trail, and Trovao says it had the potential to threaten homes, but was contained before it burned more than one hectare of bush.

Trovao says they have little doubt the fire was human caused.

In the Cariboo Regional District, Williams Lake RCMP say five men were taken into custody on Tuesday after residents spotted people trying to light a number of fires.

Insp. Jeff Pelley says no one was hurt and no homes were damaged.

“The immediate response of the bystanders and Williams Lake Fire Department likely prevented this event from causing serious harm to the home owner. Another fire within the city limits could have had a detrimental effect on our community,” Pelley says in a news release.

Wildfires forced the evacuation of Williams Lake last month, but residents have since returned to the city. The evacuation alert for the area was lifted Tuesday.

A massive wildfire southwest of Williams Lake in the Hanceville area now covers 2,120 square kilometres and nearly a dozen other wildfires are burning north, east and west of the city.

BC Wildfire Service spokesman Kevin Skrepnek said Tuesday that 154 wildfires were burning across B.C., and the firefighting price tag has reached $309 million, though that figure does not include costs for known losses which include dozens of homes and 118 outbuildings.

Emergency Management BC says nearly 9,300 people remain out of their homes in central and southeastern B.C., as 40 evacuation orders are still in place.

Evacuation orders were downgraded to alerts Tuesday for the community of Clinton and from Alexis Creek to Riske Creek but Sell says there are still some evacuees needing food and assistance as they shelter in Kamloops. (The Canadian Press, CHNL, CKIZ)

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