Residents of 18 homes evacuated when a wildfire ripped through an area near a small community in southern British Columbia were cleared to return home on Wednesday, though the fire continued to burn after destroying one house.
The province's emergency information service said that while the evacuation order was rescinded, 165 homes in the area remained on alert for residents to flee at a moment's notice.
The fire was discovered on Wednesday near Kaleden, B.C., located in the Okanagan Valley along Skaha Lake, about an hour's drive south of Kelowna. The BC Wildfire Service said the fire had burned up about 6.5 hectares of forest and brush and was still classified as uncontained, but crews have boxed in the blaze with a 15-metre perimeter.
The fire destroyed one house on Tuesday, and a member of Kaleden's volunteer fire department said several outbuildings were also lost.
The fire is believed to be human-caused, but it remains under investigation.
A special weather statement from Environment Canada warned of unseasonable heat over most of southern British Columbia, including the Okanagan and Similkameen, with temperatures reaching to the high 30s for the next several days.
The system also includes afternoon winds of up to 20 kilometres an hour, and firefighters say they will be watching closely to ensure gusts don't fan spot fires around Kaleden.
The BC Wildfire Service had recorded 299 fires since April 1 of this year, burning 1,760 hectares of land. There were seven new fires discovered on Monday, the most recent day for which statistics were available. Of those, five were caused by people.
The largest fire currently burning is about 30 kilometres from the resort community of Harrison Hot Springs, about 100 kilometres east of Vancouver. First reported on Sunday, the fire has burned 115 hectares of land, according to the BC Wildfire Service.
While it is not considered an interface fire – which means it does not immediately pose a risk to buildings – emergency officials had issued a notice to leave an area nearby. The order does not include any primary residences or commercial buildings, but does include recreational areas.
There were 80 firefighters, six helicopters and air tankers involved in fighting the fire.
Another notable fire is located at Woden Creek, in southeastern B.C. near Nelson, where a 25-hectare fire has been burning for more than a week. More than three dozen firefighters were fighting the blaze, which was caused by lightning.
The dry weather also prompted a campfire ban over much of southwestern British Columbia.
The BC Wildfire Service says all open fires, including campfires, will be banned starting Thursday across the Coastal Fire Centre, which includes Vancouver Island, the Vancouver region and the province's central coast. Gas, propane or briquette cooking stoves are still permitted.
Only Haida Gwaii and the "fog zone," a thin strip along the western edge of Vancouver Island, are exempt from the ban.
The service said in a news release that a stretch of hot weather, with no rain in the forecast, has forced the ban which covers the entire south and central coasts and extends east to Manning Provincial Park and north to Tweedsmuir Provincial Park.
The prohibition will remain in effect until Oct. 21 or until further notification.
Violators face fines ranging from $1,150 to $10,000 and a year in jail, and if a campfire or other burning contributes to a wildfire, the person responsible may be ordered to pay all firefighting and associated costs.
With reports from Globe staff