The Sabiston Creek grass fire. (BC Wildfire)

UPDATE: Wildfire near Kamloops grows to 200 hectares

Sabiston Creek is raging due to strong winds

UPDATE: 4:38 p.m.

The Sabiston Creek wildfire is now an estimated 200 hectares in size.

Wildfire crews are working on a controlled burn operation to remove the unburnt fuel between the edge of the fire and the control line, to eliminate the potential for the fuels to ignite on their own.

According to BC Wildfire, a controlled burn is only useful when conditions are ideal and it allows for crews to create a burn out in a supervised environment.

Residents in the area may notice increased smoke as a result of the operation.

Crews will also be conducting a small-scale test burn east of Lytton on Thursday in order to assess and verify fire behaviour and fuel conditions.

“This enables us to ensure our fuel and weather indices, which greatly affect the intensity of the wildfire, are accurate,” stated BC Wildfire.

The small scale burn will also allow for crews to be better prepared for future wildfires based on how dry conditions are.

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More firefighters are expected to arrive in an area west of Kamloops, B.C., to help contain an aggressive wildfire that scorched a square kilometre of grassland, sage and bush within hours.

The blaze, which is believed to have been started by humans, broke out near Savona Wednesday, severing Highway 1 between Kamloops and Cache Creek

Crews were able to reopen the highway after the flames responded well to suppression efforts.

Several aircraft were assigned to the fire Wednesday, but strong and gusty winds complicated the work. It has now reached 100 hectares in size.

At one point, the flames had burned below power lines cutting electricity to about 400 customers, but the BC Hydro website shows power was restored within hours.

Environment Canada reports a “precipitation deficit” in the Kamloops area after an extremely dry spring and even the five to 10 millimetres of rain expected across the region this weekend won’t be enough to erase the parched conditions.

Forecaster Matt MacDonald says last month was the seventh warmest May in the region since 1893, while Kamloops only saw 64 per cent of normal precipitation for the month — the third dry month in a row.

“We’re sitting about 50 millimetres short of normal rainfall amounts. The spring, as a whole, was very dry,” MacDonald says.

“There’s just such a significant precipitation deficit for the first part of the year for most of the Southern Interior.”

After weekend showers pass through MacDonald says hot, dry conditions are forecast to return with temperatures in the low 30s expected to last for a week or more.

June rains are common in British Columbia and the wildfire service says moisture in June is the key to keeping the forest fire risk in check through July and August.

There are currently no burning bans in the Kamloops or southeast, but campfires are banned in one zone of the northeast.

Open fires larger than a campfire are restricted in the Coastal, Cariboo, Northwest and Prince George fire centres.

READ ALSO: Wildfire near Canada/US border reaches 47 hectares, out of control

READ ALSO: June rain will tell if B.C. is in for another hot wildfire season

The Canadian Press


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