Posted at 6:00 a.m.
Near Lytton, a town halfway between Vancouver and Kamloops, a fire is raging on the slopes of Nohomin Creek, on the west side of the Fraser River. Some 3,700 hectares (1 hectare corresponds to 10,000 square meters) were ravaged. In all, 65 firefighters and 10 helicopters are mobilized. Further east and south of Kelowna, near the Washington state border, the Keremeos Creek fire has resulted in 42 square kilometers of scorched land to date. It grew by 52% on Wednesday. Thursday, due to cooler weather, firefighters had a short respite. But the unpredictable behavior of the flames has since forced the evacuation of the entire community of Olalla. Residents of hundreds of homes were evacuated and some 400 firefighters fought the blaze. In total, the province has 57 active fires, 6 of which are classified as very important (ie threatening to public safety).
California and Texas
These two states in the southern United States are struggling with several large fires. Controlled to only 10% Thursday morning, the McKinney fire, in northern California near the border with Oregon, is by far the largest with 23,742 hectares affected. Since its outbreak, 4 people have died, more than 100 houses have been razed and 1,300 people were still evacuated on Thursday. In the center of the state, the Oak Fire in Mariposa County destroyed 7,788 hectares. He was 90% under control Friday morning. Note that it was just west of the Washburn Fire, which forced the closure of the Mariposa Grove area, known for its redwoods, in Yosemite National Park. This area was reopened to the public on Wednesday. In Texas, the situation is less dramatic, but two fires west of the capital, Austin, destroyed 567 and 324 hectares of land respectively. They were 50% contained Thursday, the Texas A&M Forest Service said.
Spain, France, Greece
Firefighters from Spain and France have fought numerous fires in recent weeks. In Spain, some 25,000 hectares of forest have been destroyed recently, adding to 30,000 hectares in June. A firefighter died in the region of Castile and Leon, where the fire ravaged 9000 hectares. A shepherd also lost his life in the northwest of the country. Large forest fires have been reported in Extremadura, Galicia and Catalonia. In France, the Landiras fire (Gironde) has cut 13,600 hectares of forest and would be the largest recorded for decades. In all, 21,000 hectares have been destroyed in the South West and 47,286 hectares in the country since the beginning of the year. Fires are still raging in Haute-Corse (controlled, 450 hectares) and in Mano, in the Landes (controlled, 300 hectares). Greece also fought several major fires in late July, including on the island of Lesbos, where 200 people had been evacuated, and in Dadiá National Park in the north of the country.
Thursday afternoon, the Society for the Protection of Forests against Fire (SOPFEU) reported two active fires (under control) for an area of 0.8 hectares in Quebec. Since the beginning of the year, there have been 312 fires and 232.4 hectares of forest affected in the province. While the average of the last 10 years, on the same date, is 390 fires and… 18,759 hectares. “We had a rainy month of June and successive depressions kept the soil wet in July,” observes Josée Poitras, the organization’s prevention and communications officer. In addition, there was little lightning. This is not, however, a record. On the same date, August 4, 2008, Quebec recorded 167 fires and 119.9 hectares affected. The reverse record dates back to 2005, with 1,005 fires and 355,940 hectares destroyed.
Sources: SOPFEU, BC Wildfire Service, Cal Fire, Texas A & M Forest Service, European Forest Fire Information System, CBC, The worldAgence France-Presse, Associated Press
Biggest wildfire in history? In 2003, 22 million hectares were destroyed during the fires of the Siberian taiga which affected Siberia, the far east of Russia, northern China and northern Mongolia. NASA has released spectacular images of the smoke plume.
Source: earth. org