Homes at Boston Flats near Ashcroft are among those destroyed by this summer’s wildfires (Ashcroft-Cache Creek Journal)

Damage tallied as B.C. wildfire battle continues

Currently more than 400 structures known to be affected

B.C.’s largest wildfire season has affected 220 homes and more than 200 other buildings, with more likely to be found as areas become safe to survey.

Central B.C., where fires continue to rage in the Cariboo-Chilcotin and elsewhere, has 214 identified structures destroyed or damaged. Another 212 have been located in the Northeast and five more in the Southeast, said Chris Duffy of Emergency Management B.C. at Wednesday’s province-wide update on conditions.

The B.C. Wildfire Service had 158 fires on its active map as of Wednesday, with three new starts recorded on Tuesday. The latest estimate of the record total area burned is 11,539 square km, and direct costs to the service have reached $473 million.

The province’s largest fire, the Plateau complex in the northern Chilcotin, remained constant in total area at 5,200 square km, an area approaching the size of Prince Edward Island.

Work continued on the Philpott Road fire, burning in heavy timber and steep terrain southwest of Kelowna after starting at the roadside on Aug. 24.

In the Cariboo, Highway 24 was closed near Lone Butte and Nazko Road west of Quesnel remained closed, with local detours available.

With warm weather and little or no rain in the forecast for southern B.C., smoky conditions continued for much of the province. Inflow winds were expected to clear smoke and bring rain to the South Coast area, but rain was not expected to reach the Southeast region, where fires are active.

Improved visibility did allow the lifting of travel advisories for Highway 1 at Glacier National Park, Highway 93 at Kootenay National Park and Highway 33 near Kelowna.

The backcountry closure remains in effect for the Rocky Mountain resource district in the East Kootenay, due to large fires and limited access roads.

While backcountry bans have been lifted in the Cariboo, Kamloops and Southeast fire centres, access is still discouraged and off-road vehicles are still prohibited.

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