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Here’s what’s happening with the 155 fires burning in British Columbia

Eli Garlick jumps into Lake Kalamalka in Vernon, British Columbia, Monday, July 17, 2017. The Okanagan area is blanked with smoke from wildfires burning in the interior of the province.
Eli Garlick jumps into Lake Kalamalka in Vernon, British Columbia, Monday, July 17, 2017. The Okanagan area is blanked with smoke from wildfires burning in the interior of the province. The Canadian Press via AP

​Metro Vancouver has issued an air quality advisory for Metro Vancouver and the Fraser Valley Regional District because of high concentrations of fine particulate matter due to wildfires outside of the region.

Canada’s Lower Mainland is clouded with a haze of smoke from wildfires burning in B.C.; the smoky conditions are expected to linger until Wednesday.

Exposure is particularly a concern for infants, the elderly and those who have diabetes, and lung or heart disease.

Of the 155 fires, 27 were considered “fires of note” by the wildfire service, 15 of those are threatening communities.

Meanwhile, residents of Cache Creek were being allowed to return home after more than a week away following an evacuation order.

Emergency Management B.C.’s Robert Turner said new data showed there were now 45,806 evacuees province-wide.

According to the B.C. Wildfire Service’s Kevin Skrepnek, there were 155 fires burning in the province on Tuesday morning. A total of 675 fires have been documented since the beginning of the 2017 season on April 1. Nine new fires started on Monday.

Of the 155 fires, 27 were considered “fires of note” by the wildfire service, 15 of those are threatening communities.

The weather forecast for Wednesday and Thursday suggests rain may be on the way, but there’s also a strong risk of lightning. Dry lightning was possible between Hope and Princeton in the southern interior.

The wildfire service upped its estimate of total area burned so far this year to 3,270 square kilometres.

Skrepnek said the jump from Monday’s estimate of 1,880 square kilometres was due to a mix of growth of fires, mainly in the Chilcotin, and better data. The new number suggests the current fire season will exceed the numbers from recent fire seasons: 1,000 square kilometres burned in 2016, 2,800 in 2015, 3,690 in 2014. Other notable years are 2010, when 3,370 square kilometres burned, and 2009 when then full-season total was 2,470 square kilometres.

Over the last 10 years, on average 1,540 square kilometres burn.

So far this year $98.4 million has been spent by the wildfire service. There are approximately 3,000 personnel involved in fighting fires, including several hundred from out of province and nearly a thousand local contractors. There are 220 aircraft being used to fight fires, though heavy smoke was limiting the number that could be in the air at any one time, Skrepnek said.

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