(BC Wildfire Service)

Weather forecast concerns wildfire officials

Conditions expected to remain hot and dry through weekend with strong chance of more lightning.

Wildfire officials are expressing concern as hot and dry conditions are expected to remain in place for much of B.C. over the next few days and throughout this weekend.

There is little rain in the forecast, and with the potential for lightning activity over much of the province, chief fire information officer Kevin Skrepnek said weather remains a huge factor as crews attempt to contain the 152 fires burning throughout the province at this time.

With winds gusting up to 40 km/h in some areas, fire officials are expecting more new fires today given the ideal conditions, which could make for challenging days ahead.

Another 15 new fires broke out on Tuesday, bringing the total number of wildfires recorded since April 1 to 787. These fires have burned through 379,000 hectares at a cost of $145.2 million.

Skrepnek said the province is weeks ahead of where it should be with accumulated dryness and with winds expected to continue over the weekend, there could be a significant increase in fire activity.

Local governments have been asked to prepare for any eventuality — including the ability to either receive evacuees or to be put on alert as well. Residents should continue to monitor the weather in their area and watch your local Black Press website for further updates.

Assistant Deputy Minister Robert Turner with Emergency Management BC said the Ministry of Children and Families has reopened their office in 100 Mile House at its regular location and all services are open to the public.

According to RCMP the Okanagan Centre wildfire is believed to have been deliberately set, and officers are now investigating it as a criminal case of arson.

At a press conference Wednesday, Cpl. Dan Moskaluk said they have identified a few groups of recreational users that were in the area on July 15. And anyone who was in the area and might have photos or video of the area are also urged to contact police.

“Any photos or video captured by boaters, those on land, motorists, or residents with closed circuit CT cams, that recorded that day of the fire, we would be interested in viewing,” he said.

Major wildfires:Hanceville Riske Creek – 132,000 ha, 45 per cent contained

White Lake – 8,107 ha

Wildwood – 12,987 ha

Elephant Hill – 61,500 ha, 30 per cent contained

Wildfire donations:

Vancouver paramedics will be collecting donations today for the Red Cross and wildfire relief. They will be stationed outside the Broadway Skytrain Station on July 26 from 1-6 p.m.

BC Liquor Stores have also been collecting donations and have raised $300,000.

Wildfire updates:

To report a new wildfire or an open burning violation, please call 1 800 663-5555 toll-free or *5555 on a cellphone.

For up-to-date information on current wildfire activity, burning restrictions, road closures, and air quality advisories, call 1 888 3-FOREST (1-888-336-7378) or visit the BC Gov wildfire website.

You can follow the latest wildfire news on:Twitter at http://twitter.com/BCGovFireInfo

Facebook at http://facebook.com/BCForestFireInfo

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