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Comprehensive local wildfire update as of 2 p.m. Thursday

The wildfire smoke in the valley is making for amazing sunset photos, but is creating health issues for local residents. Photo, taken at Syringa, courtesy Celina Iachetta of Nina Bella photography

There are currently 46 wildfires burning in the Southeast Fire Centre, according to Fire Information Officer Karlie Shaughnessy.

That brings the number of fires-to-date in the centre to 238 blazes burning approximately 13,138 hectares. Of those, 176 were lightning caused, and the rest were human caused. This, compared to the five-year average of 232 fires burning 4,074 hectares.

Province-wide this season, there have been 953 fires burning 614,014 hectares. A province-wide State of Emergency remaiins in effect. BC Wildfire Services website indicates seven new fires in the Southeast Fire Centre since Aug. 8.

Shaughnessy said the McCormick Creek fire in the Pend O’Reille is thought to remain at 75 hectares.

“It’s so smoky, they can’t get an accurate mapping of it,” she explained. “There are 25 personnel and two helicopters there, and there is one unit crew (20 personnel) en route to it, (which is likely) to arrive tomorrow.”

The evacuation alert issued by the RDCK remains in place, impacting 23 homes. (see http://castlegarsource.com/news/fire-pend-doreille-area-prompts-evacuation-alert-45254#.WYzR1FGQy1s )

The Harrop Creek fire is at 2,136 hectares, with 63 personnel, four helicopters, and three pieces of heavy equipment on scene.

“Yesterday, we had a 15 hectare escape fire, which occurred about 750 metres outside of the main fire perimeter,” Shaughnessy said. “That fire is currently burning back toward the main fire. Neither fire is threatening any communities or structures.”

A new lightning-caused fire in Cascade, one km from the Canada/US border (about 10 km east of Laurier, and roughly 20 km SW of Rossland) was reported Wednesday and is between four and five hectares. Twenty personnel are on scene, aided by one helicopter and one piece of heavy equipment.

“There is also a US initial attack crew assisting,” she said.

She said the weather forecast calls for continues hot, dry conditions through to Saturday or Sunday, at which point there will be a change in the weather pattern, with cooler temperatures and a chance of precipitation.

“When you get really large fires, there is really no way to extinguish them without help from Mother Nature,” she said.

For more information, visit http://www2.gov.bc.ca/gov/content/safety/wildfire-status/wildfire-situation

To report a wildfire call toll-free 1‑800‑663‑5555, or *5555 on most cellular networks.