Thunderstorms rolled in across much of the BC interior yesterday and lightning strikes sparked a large number of new fires, according to Chief Fire Information Officer Kevin Skrepnek

“We currently have 154 fires burning across the province, including 20 new fires that have actually just started today,” says Kevin Skrepnek, chief wildfire information officer with the BC Wildfire Service. “We are seeing a number of new fires in the Southeast Fire Centre, many of those the results of lightning activity over the last 24 hours.”

Five additional fires started on Wednesday.

“We’ve had 1099 fires to date and they have burned an estimated 1,026,214 hectares. Estimated costs to date for the BC Wildfire service – $377.4 million dollars.”

Rain and cooler temperatures are expected for next week across most of the affected areas. However, Skrepnek says the rain may not be enough to make much of an impact on the fires. He says significant rain will be required to significantly change the situation.

Skrepnek also provided an update on the province’s most significant fires. The Plateau fire, still the largest in the province and in BC’s history, is estimated at 467,000 hectares (ha) and has seen little growth and only limited activity recently. More than 400 firefighters and 106 aircraft and pieces of heavy equipment are currently on scene.

The Hanceville-Riske Creek fire is now estimated at 232,000 ha and is being attended by 200 firefighters and support staff, as well as 13 helicopters and 100 pieces of heavy equipment.

The Elephant Hill fire is about 166,000 ha and 35% contained. There are more than 400 personnel on scene, along with 17 helicopters and 108 pieces of heavy equipment. This fire has seen some increased activity – Skrepnek says the situation remains wait-and-see in terms of wind and rain activity.