A Canadian Armed Forces Flight Engineer surveys the wildfires burning in British Columbia during a reconnaissance flight from a CH-147 Chinook during Operation LENTUS 17-04 in Kamloops British Columbia, on 12 July 2017. (Province of British Columbia)

B.C. wildfire crews prepare for windy weekend

Environment Canada is forecasting a cold front Saturday afternoon

With 167 fires burning across B.C. Friday afternoon, fire crews are looking to prepare for winds across the central and southern Interior this weekend.

There remain 22 wildfires of note, with 14 of those classified as interface fires, chief fire information officer Kevin Skrepnek said. So far, 114,000 hectares of land have been burned, equating to $73 million in costs as 3,000 personnel help battle the blazes.

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Environment Canada is forecasting a cold front Saturday afternoon, bringing windy conditions throughout southern B.C. Lightning is also forecasted near Fort St. John.

“As for the wind, we’re especially concerned in what that’s going to entail,” Skrepnek said.

The Chilcotin region, near Williams Lake, stands as the largest fire – made up of several smaller fires – at 40,000 hectares in size.

Efforts to prepare for the winds include controlled burns at areas around 100 Mile as well as White Lake in Williams Lake – the fire posing the most threat to the city. Controlled burns allow for the fuel to burn in a controlled setting before fires potentially move to the areas, due to wind.

Meanwhile, Skrepnek discouraged people entering the backcountry.

“When it is this hot and dry, with the winds in the forecast, too, it just makes everything more volatile,” he said, encouraging people to stay out of the backcountry.

As of 2 p.m. July 14, wildfires of note sit at:

Ashcroft Reserve– 11,500 ha

Princeton – 2,700 ha, 10 per cent contained

Gustafsen – 5,000 ha, 20 per cent contained

Wildwood – 2,500 ha, 40 per cent contained

Chilcotin complex (multiple fires) – 40,000 ha

Little Fort east – 1,400 ha, 20 per cent contained

Litte Fort west – 450 ha, 40 per cent contained

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Updated: Weather office says more thunder and strong winds possible Friday afternoon, evening

Environment Canada says winds could gust at up to 70 kilometres per hour

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