British Columbia’s wildfire service has warned that warmer and drier weather expected throughout this week could fuel potentially volatile conditions as crews battle an out-of-control fire just west of the village of Lytton.
Environment Canada’s forecast for the area at the north end of the Fraser Canyon shows clear skies with daytime temperatures above 30 C starting Tuesday.
The wildfire service says the lower relative humidity will cause fuels to dry out, stoking the flames of the blaze that measures 20 kilometres square, up from 17, following the latest aerial mapping.
While the southern, eastern and northern flanks are showing minimal activity, it says the western flank is active and much of the terrain is steep and “inoperable.”
The blaze has destroyed at least six properties and forced more than 100 people from their homes on the west side of the Fraser River, northeast of Vancouver.
Public Safety Minister Mike Farnworth told a news conference earlier Monday that the fire’s western flank was pushing toward Stein Valley Nlaka’pamux Heritage Park, where a spot fire was discovered near the start of a walking trail over the weekend.
The wildfire service says it is working with a representative of Lytton First Nation to identify areas of cultural value in the area and decide how to protect them.
More than 100 people have been assigned to the blaze, backed by four water tenders, 10 helicopters and other support crews, the service says.
Crews along the fire’s southern flank have been extending their water delivery system as they work their way up a steep slope along the edge of the fire.
To the north, crews are building a “wet line” to protect BC Hydro transmission lines, while others have been patrolling structures along the fire’s eastern flank.
Recovery is just beginning in the village of Lytton, most of which was destroyed by a fast-moving wildfire little more than a year ago.
The cause of the latest blaze is under investigation.
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