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Fire guards established on Watching Creek blaze northwest of Kamloops

The lightning-ignited fire has burned about 270 hectares as of Aug. 4
Watching Creek wildfire Aug 3 BC Wildfire Service
Smoke rises from the Watching Creek wildfire northwest of Kamloops on Aug. 3, 2022. The fire was sparked by lightning on July 29, 2022.

Crews are continuing to battle the Watching Creek wildfire northwest of Kamloops, taking advantage of a heavy downpour on Thursday (Aug. 4).

The latest report shows the fire has now burned about 270 hectares, showing slow growth since its ignition by lightning on July 29 about 14 kilometres from Kamloops.

BC Wildfire Service fire information officer Roslyn Johnson said crews are working on the northeast corner of the fire from the north and from the south, establishing a guard and water delivery system.

Heavy equipment, meanwhile, completed a fire guard on Thursday and helicopters provided water bucket drops to support the ground crews.

A total of 77 wildland firefighters, six helicopters and eight pieces of heavy machinery have been fighting the blaze.

Two areas of concern were protected early in the fire. Structural protection by way of sprinklers was established for a Pass Lake property, but later demobilized, while structures at McQueen Lake have been assessed for protection and crews will move equipment there, if necessary.

The area remains under evacuation alert, put in place by the Thompson-Nicola Regional District on Aug. 1.

Johnson said fire activity is expected to remain low, but smoke may be visible in the Kamloops area.

An update on the wildfire situation in B.C.

As of Aug. 5, there have been 538 wildfires in the province, 148 of which started within the past seven days.The number of active fires stands at 60, with nine blazes having been sparked in the past two days.

The largest number of active fires are in the Kamloops Fire Centre, which has 20. The Kamloops Fire Centre extends from the northern border of Wells Gray Provincial Park to the U.S. border in the south, and from the Bridge River Glacier west of Gold Bridge to the Monashee Mountains east of Lumby.

Nineteen active fires are in the Southeast Fire Centre, with seven in the Prince George Fire Centre, six in the Cariboo Fire Centre, five in the Northwest Fire Centre and three in the Coastal Fire Centre.

Of the 60 active fires, the BC Wildfire Service said 43 were caused by lightning, six were human-caused and 11 have unknown causes. Of the 538 wildfires documented this year, 283 were sparked by lightning, 225 were caused by human activity and 30 have no known causes attributed to them.

Of the 60 active fires, six — including the Watching Creek blaze — are fires of note, which means blazes that are highly visible or pose a threat to public safety. The remaining five fires of note are the Keremeos Creek (about 21 kilometres southwest of Penticton), Maria Creek (about six kilometres northeast of Pavilion and farther northeast of Cache Creek) and Nohomin Creek (about two kilometres northwest of Lytton) blazes in the Kamloops Fire Centre and the Briggs Creek (about 12 kilometres west of Kaslo) and Connell Ridge (about 15 kilometres south of Cranbrook) blazes in the Southeast Fire Centre.