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Weather may hinder wildfire fight next week

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Daniel Martins
Digital Reporter

Saturday, July 26, 2014, 2:33 PM -

British Columbia's ongoing wildfire battle saw some reprieve this past week, thanks to rains and some cooler temperatures.

Where once most of the province's wildfire risk was listed as high or extreme, now the risk is much lower

Some evacuations were ordered as the fires threatened the community of West Kelowna, but most of the 2,500 evacuees were allowed home this past week.

Evacuation orders for the Jura and Apex Mountain fires in southern B.C. and the Maka-Murray fire, south of Merritt, were also dropped, while another order was downgraded to an alert for residents near the Botanie Road fire on private land just north of Lytton.

However, though the weather helped this week, Weather Network meteorologist Tyler Hamilton is warning that may change.

"An omega block is likely to appear during the early part of next week, which will lead to a stagnant pattern, with likely diminishing air quality and rising forest fire danger for B.C.," he said Saturday morning. "Although recent rain has diminished the fire risk in the short term, the fire risk will be on the rise by early next week."

At the moment, there are some showers in the north, while the south is looking fair and seasonal for the weekend, with little to no precipitation for Vancouver and the south coast for at least the next week.

And although there has been significant progress in the wildfire fight, some blazes are still significant, burning tens of thousands of hectares of land.

For now at least, conditions have improved enough that the Cariboo Fire Centre dropped a campfire ban in part of that region for campfires east of the Fraser River. The ban remains for fires west of the river.

In neighbouring Alberta, a fire near Banff National Park has been contained to around 9,000 hectares, allowing all closed trails west of Highway 93N that were previously closed to reopen, although some remain closed.
Fires elsewhere in the province are mostly under control, and there are currently no fire-related evacuation alerts or orders in effect.

It's more dire in the Northwest Territories, where the fight continues, with around 34 wildfires listed as out of control in the territory.

It's been a very severe wildfire season in the Northwest Territories, with more than a million hectares burned so far.

The sheer extent of the burning was such that it sparked air quality advisories in Alberta earlier in the month, and as recently as this week the particulate matter in the air was noticeable even in Ontario and the United States.

With files from the Canadian Press. Thumbnail image courtesy NWT Fire.


TUNE IN: Watch the Weather Network on TV for updates on these fires. If it's safe to do so, upload your pictures and videos here.


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