Firefighters make progress battling BC blaze

British Columbia introduced travel restrictions and expanded evacuation orders over the weekend as wildfires continue to rage in the province, but officials expressed optimism yesterday that fire crews were turning the corner in the battle to contain the blazes.

Why it matters: Around 35,000 people in BC and 30,000 in the Northwest Territories (75% of the territory’s population) have been displaced in the past week amid Canada’s worst wildfire season on record.

Why it’s happening: The new travel restrictions are intended to keep non-residents out of the Okanagan region as firefighters work to contain wildfires threatening several communities, including Kelowna, the province’s seventh-largest city.

  • 500 firefighters were making progress in the fight to suppress the fires yesterday, with West Kelowna’s fire chief saying “things are finally looking better.”

Catch up: The fire threatening the region grew rapidly after being first discovered early last week near West Kelowna, across Okanagan Lake from the city’s downtown.

  • Strong winds blowing embers across the river triggered new fires on the other side of the lake and prompted evacuations in Kelowna.

  • The BC Wildfire Service reports that the fire closest to Kelowna grew quickly over the weekend and is now around 769 hectares.

  • In the Northwest Territories, officials said a wildfire threatening Yellowknife was being held at bay around 15 kilometres outside of the city.

What’s next: Rain expected early this week around Kelowna could help firefighting efforts in the region, while local officials said warmer and drier conditions in Yellowknife are likely to strengthen nearby fires this week.—TS