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A wildfire burns on a mountain near Ashcroft, B.C., late Friday July 7, 2017. A state of emergency remains in effect in British Columbia as wildfires continue to ravage much of the province, particularly in the central interior.


For the latest information on current wildfires, road closings and air quality advisories, visit B.C. Wildfire Service and Emergency Info B.C.

To provide assistance to those affected by the wildfires, you can make a donation through The Red Cross.

A mix of lightning and human factors sparked wildfires across British Columbia heading into the weekend, triggering thousands of evacuations and a provincial state of emergency.

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As of Saturday, nearly 200 wildfires burned across the province, mostly in the central interior. Of those, 142 started on Friday – one of the province's "busiest wildfire days in recent memory," according to the BC Wildfire Service.

An estimated 3,000 households have been evacuated, said John Rustad, B.C.'s minister of forests, lands and natural resource operations.

Premier-designate John Horgan will meet with some of the evacuees in Kamloops today, where he'll also visit emergency operations centres that are dealing with what his team called the "worsening wildfire crisis".

Kevin Skrepnek, B.C.'s chief fire information officer, said while the causes haven't yet been determined for every fire, it's estimated that roughly half were caused by lightning and half by humans.

Watch: B.C. wildfires prompt state of emergency

Read more: Wildfire challenges, explained by someone who spent 33 years fighting them

"A big driver of activity yesterday was the lightning we were getting, but there were definitely human-caused fires in there as well – which is frustrating, given that those are preventable fires," Mr. Skrepnek said.

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About 1,000 B.C. firefighters are currently battling the blazes, alongside around 200 contract firefighters. The latter figure is expected to climb significantly, Mr. Skrepnek said.

British Columbia is making $100 million available to communities and residents affected by wildfires to help them rebuild.

Outgoing Premier Christy Clark announced the fund today during a visit to Kamloops, where she met with emergency officials and families impacted by scores of out-of-control fires.

Clark says $600 will be made immediately available by electronic transfer through the Red Cross to people who have registered after being forced from their homes.

B.C. has requested the assistance of other provinces and is expecting another 260 personnel by early next week, Mr Rustad said. On Saturday, Saskatchewan Premier Brad Wall said that province would send three tankers and a total of 30 firefighters and personnel, while Alberta Wildfire said it would send one tanker, 60 firefighters and 30 to 35 other personnel.

The largest wildfire is near Ashcroft, just south of Cache Creek; both have been ordered to evacuate. As of Saturday, the Ashcroft fire was estimated to be 4,000 hectares. Forty-one firefighters are on the scene.

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Sue Willis, a farmer with a hay ranch just north of Cache Creek, fled the property with her daughters early Saturday morning. They brought four horse trailers with them, containing three horses each, and packed three dogs, a goat and several rabbits into their truck. A dozen cows had to be left behind.

"We're like Noah's Ark," Ms. Willis said. "My one daughter kept saying, 'I can't believe I have a goat on my lap.'"

Ms. Willis's husband stayed behind several hours to put irrigation pipes around their home; the whole family was expected to head down to the Lower Mainland to stay with friends Saturday night.

She said she was trying to stay positive.

"I don't want to lose my home," Ms. Willis said. "And my kids are obviously worried about that. But I just tell myself we're all together and we're healthy. We're going to get us and our animals out of here."

Wilfred Duncan, a retired forestry firefighter who watched as the fire tore through the home he was staying in on the Ashcroft Indian Reserve, said he had never seen anything like it.

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"The way that was coming, there was no stopping it," Mr. Duncan said. "We're talking dry sagebrush, dry grass. What's going to stop that? That's just like lighting toilet paper on fire."

John Ranta, mayor of Cache Creek and head of the Thompson-Nicola Regional District, said the Ashcroft fire destroyed dozens of buildings, including at least five houses, 30 trailer park homes and two hangers at a regional airport.

Other wildfires of note include one just west of 100 Mile House that had doubled in size on Saturday, to 3,200-hectares, and was expected to grow "substantially," according to the BC Wildfire Service. An evacuation order was issued for a number of properties in the area, as well as into the nearby communities of 105 Mile House and 108 Mile House.

B.C. declared a provincial state of emergency on Friday night – the first time it has done so due to wildfires since 2003.

Forests Minister Mr. Rustad said the fires are "very challenging" to attack because of their intensity.

"Our primary goal through all of this is to make sure we try to protect life, we make sure that people are safe throughout the region," he said.

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"Our secondary goal is to protect key infrastructure such as roads and hydro lines and other assets, including, of course, people's homes, where we can."

Hot, dry weather forecast for coming days is expected to increase wildfire activity.

With a report from the Canadian Press

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