Wildfire smoke haze building across southern BC this weekend, Environment Canada warns

Smoke from wildfires burning in Washington state, Idaho and the British Columbia Interior is expected to create hazy skies across much of southern BC over the weekend.

Environment Canada has posted air quality statements for the Fraser Valley and a large section of southeastern BC, while haze is also expected across Metro Vancouver on Saturday.

The BC Wildfire Service says a lightning-caused blaze sparked in northern Washington state last month now covers 70 square kilometers — including nearly 31 square kilometers that have burned in EC Manning Provincial Park, around 175 kilometers east of Vancouver — since the fire crossed the border last week.

Flames are within five kilometers of the Manning Park Resort, prompting an evacuation alert for 180 properties in the nearby community of Eastgate, but no homes or park infrastructure have been lost.

The wildfire service is also keeping a close eye on a suspected human-caused fire that broke out Thursday night just west of Hope and has charred more than 30 hectares of bush in steep terrain close to Highway 1, but is not threatening the busy route or nearby properties.

RCMP are asking drivers on Highway 1 to drive with caution amid reduced visibility due to wildfire smoke.

A separate blaze in northern Idaho is also wafting smoke across southeastern BC, while small fires in the southern Okanagan and Kootenays have prompted evacuation alerts — but only the Manning Park fire and two in northeastern BC are ranked as fires of note.

The wildfire service says wind and heat are complicating the fight for crews in the northeast, where a 132-square kilometer fire west of Hudson’s Hope and a 60-square kilometer blaze southeast of Tumbler Ridge remain out of control, prompting evacuation orders and alerts for surrounding communities.

Nearly 200 fires are currently burning in BC, with 77 reported in the past week. The wildfire service says the majority have been caused by lightning.

Nearly 200 fires are currently burning in BC, including the Flood Falls Trail wildfire southwest of Hope, BC (Sean Renihan)

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