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Fast-growing fire near Kamloops prompts evacuation alerts and orders

Provincial wildfire count up to 480 as of mid-day Sunday
The BC Wildfire Service continues to respond to the Ross Moore Lake wildfire located approximately 13 kilometres south of Kamloops, British Columbia is shown in this handout image provided by the BC Wildfire Service. THE CANADIAN PRESS/HO-BC Wildfire Service

A fast-moving wildfire that has prompted evacuation orders and alerts in and around the Kamloops area expanded rapidly to 18 square kilometres in size on Sunday as it moved closer to the city limits.

The Ross Moore Lake fire, first discovered Friday afternoon, is now about 13 kilometres south of the city and more than doubled in size overnight.

The BC Wildfire Service said the blaze is now “highly visible” from the city and surrounding areas and the Thompson Nicola Regional District has ordered people in 49 properties out of their homes, as about 330 others remain on alert.

The blaze is one of about 480 active fires burning across the province.

Emergency Management Minister Bowinn Ma told a news conference Sunday that the fires burning near Kamloops “are concerning.”

“We’re working with the communities to ensure that the areas that are needing to be evacuated are the ones that are targeted as much as possible, not only through alerts, but also through our door to door evacuation efforts and so forth,” she said.

The BC Wildfire service has said dry, hot and windy conditions increased fire activity on Saturday and while Environment Canada is forecasting a slight chance of rain Monday, warm and dry conditions are expected for much of the week.

This comes as Ma officially welcomed more international firefighters from Brazil Sunday, saying she is “really excited” and “grateful” for the added resources.

All 100 Brazilian firefighters arrived Friday and are attending briefings before being deployed to the Prince George Wildfire Centre, she said.

“BC Wildfire Service is constantly assessing where the resources are deployed,” she said, adding that this marks the first time Brazil has sent firefighters to the province.

They will join more than 600 out-of-province firefighters and the nearly 2,000 BCWS staff already battling blazes across B.C., she said.

There have been 1,436 wildfires so far this year, burning a record 14,800 square kilometres as of Sunday.

“What we’re seeing here in British Columbia is a combination of extreme weather events that are creating enormous concern for myself as minister, and in our government overall, and one of those concerns absolutely is the extreme drought,” Ma said. “A lot of the impacts of what we are forecasting will likely not be felt by communities for many weeks yet.”

She told the conference that the province is “constantly assessing whether a state of provincial emergency would be beneficial,” but officials feel they have the necessary tools, aid and legislation in place to respond to the current situation.

Another briefing will be held later this week, she said.

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