Lightning sparks new wildfires in British Columbia as massive blaze continues

© BCFS photo
Efforts are underway to battle the wildfires in B.C., which has claimed roughly 17,000 hectares, west of Prince George.

Crews are responding to five new wildfires in British Columbia's Central Interior, as a massive blaze continues to burn about 70 kilometres southwest of Prince George.

B.C.'s Wildfire Management Branch says all of the new fires were sparked by Friday's lightning activity in the Cariboo region.

The largest fire is raging four hectares west of Anahim Lake, where a three-person attack crew, airtankers and a helicopter are on site with 16 additional firefighters on the way.

The branch says crews are also working on three small fires in the Big Bar area and one small fire southwest of Quesnel.

Meanwhile, the aggressive Little Bobtail Lake blaze has destroyed about 17,000 hectares since it was first discovered last Saturday.

Some 240 firefighters, 11 helicopters, eight air tankers and 23 pieces of heavy machinery have been brought in and 20 per cent of the fire has been contained.

Jill Kelsh with the Prince George Fire Centre says crews have been working around the clock since last Sunday.


Little Bobtail Lake wildfire in British Columbia has burned over 32,000 acres, shows no sign of extinguishing

© MODIS Rapid Response Team
The MODIS instrument on the Aqua satellite captured this image of the Little Bobtail Lake fire in British Columbia, Canada.
The MODIS instrument on the Aqua satellite captured this image of the Little Bobtail Lake fire in British Columbia, Canada. It is unclear how the fire started and was first spotted on Saturday, May 9. Since then the fire has grown significantly and has burned over 13,000 hectares (32,123 acres) and is zero percent con[tained]. The wildfire is located about 70 km southwest of Prince George. Eighty people have already been evacuated and close to 700 homes are in danger of being consumed should the fire spread.


Eighty people forced to evacuate homes due to wildfire near Prince George, BC

© John Tymofichuk
Homes are being evacuated in small lakeside communities near Prince George as firefighters battle a wildfire.

The evacuation order covers about 80 people living on Norman Lake, Little Bobtail Lake and Naltesby Lake, while residents to the north and west are under an evacuation alert.

The wildfire is burning 50 km southwest of Prince George and was last estimated to cover 2,500 hectares. As of Sunday night, 26 firefighters were trying to bring it under control with the help of two helicopters, and five pieces of heavy equipment, but more than 100 additional staff have been called in to assist.

Smoke from the fire can be seen from Highway 16 and nearby communities.

The cause of the blaze is under investigation.

Jillian Kelsh of the B.C. Wildfire Management Branch said the evacuations are from a number of permanent and seasonal homes. She added that the fire was about 20 hectares in size when it was first spotted Saturday but quickly spread.

The forecast for the Prince George area this week calls for sunny skies and temperatures as high as 24 degrees through to Sunday. Winds are expected to gust at up to 20 km/h on Monday and Tuesday.


Update: Wildfire burns 2,400 acres in Catskill Mountains, New York


A fast-moving wildfire at the southern edge of the Catskill Mountains has affected more than 2,400 acres of state forest.
A fire in Shawangunk Ridge State Forest in the Catskill Mountains of New York has burned over 2,000 acres of land.

The fire has been burning for four days and has been contained in areas of Sullivan and Ulser counties, according to local media. It could take more than three more days to extinguish the fire that has burned more than 2,400 acres, which is more than four square miles.

The fire has caused evacuations, and officials believe the fire started when a homeowner burned debris outside, violating a state-wide burn ban. The burn ban is in effect until May 15.

Comment: See also: Wildfires in New York's Hudson Valley continue to burn


Wildfires in New York's Hudson Valley continue to burn

© Jim Sabastian / Times Herald-Record via AP
In this aerial photo, smoke rise from a brush fire along the Shawangunk Ridge northeast of Ellenville, N.Y., Tuesday, May 5, 2015. Officials suspect the blaze, which started Sunday, was caused by a homeowner burning rubbish outdoors in violation of a statewide burn ban.
A fast-moving wildfire at the southern edge of the Catskill Mountains has forced some homeowners to evacuate.

The fire, which started just before noon on Sunday in the Town of Mamakating, has affected more than 1,700 acres of the Shawangunk Ridge State Forest.

The Ulster County Sheriff's Department asked some residents in the Cragsmoor area to play it safe and leave their homes.

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Siberian fires cause red sunsets in the Pacific Northwest

© Tim Durkan
A reddish sun warms the seattle skyline
A fiery sunset greeted people in Washington Sunday.

The deep reddish color caught Seattle native Tim Durkan's eye. He photographed a handful of aerial shots of the sunset warming the city's skyline and shared them on CNN iReport.

The stunning sunsets were the result of raging wildfires in parts of Siberia.

"The dramatic sunsets began showing up over the weekend and had Seattle locals wondering where the amber-colored haze was originating from," Durken said.

The fires were started in southeastern Siberia, by farmers burning grass in their fields. But on April 14, it is believed that the flames quickly grew out of control because of strong winds and spread throughout the region, according to CNN affiliate KOMO-TV.

As a result, the fires have destroyed dozens of villages in the region. Rescue crews were able to put out the flames. However, the lingering smoke from the widespread fires were pick by atmospheric winds.

The winds carried the smoke from Siberia across the Pacific Ocean and brought it to the Pacific Northwest. Parts of Oregon, Washington and British Columbia are seeing the results of the smoke, wind and solar light combination.


Haunting video: Ash rains down on cars fleeing wildfire inferno in Russia

A haunting video emerged online of a wildfire trapping residents in eastern Siberia as they try to flee in their cars. The blaze surrounds the vehicles and what looks like volcanic ash rains down on them.

The grassland fire in Zabaykalskiy region, Russia, bordering Mongolia, has been raging since March 19, displacing people from over 1,200 dwellings in 20 separate towns and villages. Fifteen people have been killed and over 480 people injured.

A total of 22 districts in the Zabaykalskiy region have been affected, with some 93 fires there alone affecting natural reserves, according to local authorities.

All emergency situation procedures are still in place.

Russian President Vladimir Putin had personally coordinated emergency services operations in Khakassia:


Massive grassland fire: 23 dead, 900 injured in Siberia

The massive fires that swept through nearly 60 villages and towns in the Siberian republic of Khakassia have left 23 people dead, and more than 900 injured, according to an official committee investigating the tragedy.

© RIA Novosti / Evgeny Yepanchintsev
A forest fire in the village of Smolenka and summer house settlement Dobrotny in the Chitinsky district. The fire got close to residential buildings because of strong winds.
"Currently the committee can confirm 23 deaths," head of the investigative committee Vladimir Markin was quoted as saying by TASS.

More than 1,400 homes were destroyed in the fire, leaving some 6,000 people homeless, according to regional governor Viktor Zimin.

Russian President Vladimir Putin had personally coordinated emergency services operations in Khakassia, according to his spokesperson.

Some 5,000 firefighters as well as thousands of volunteers worked to contain the blazes through the night, extinguishing the fires by Monday morning. Temporary camps have been set up in the Beisky and Shirinksy districts nearby for those displaced by the fire.
© RIA Novosti / Denis Mukimov
Local residents observe the fire on the outskirts of Abakan.
The fires started after mass grass burning by residents in the region. Grass burning is a springtime tradition among farmers in some parts of Russia, meant to clear the fields of dry grass and prepare them for planting. Officials blamed the extreme severity of this year's fire on "uncontrolled burning, dry weather and uncharacteristically strong and rough winds."

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Wildfire spreads quickly in Minnesota, destroying buildings

© AshLee Ervin-Tupper
A fire grew quickly east of Aldrich Saturday evening. Four fire departments were battling the blaze.
Several fire departments and the DNR continued to battle a large fire southeast of Aldrich into the early morning hours Sunday.

The fire spread quickly with windy, dry conditions. The Staples (Minn.) Fire Department was on the scene, along with fire departments from Wadena, Hewitt, Verndale, Sebeka and Menahga, Minn. The Department of Natural Resources also aided the fire departments with aircraft and grass units.

Todd County Sheriff Don Asmus issued a news release late Saturday night asking people to stay out of the area to allow firemen complete access to the area.

Comment: Also see:

  • US: Colorado's wildfires continue to rage
  • US: 100 acres burned by another wildfire in North Carolina
  • Massive wildfire in Siberia destroys homes, injures over 70


100 acres burned by another wildfire in North Carolina

© WRAL News
Another wildfire burning in Black Mountain, North Carolina
The U.S. Forest Service said trails and roads are closed for a wildfire burning near Linville Gorge.

The Blue Gravel wildfire is burning in a remote area east of Shortoff Mountain outside of the Linville Gorge Wilderness area on the Pisgah National Forest.

The size of the fire is estimated at 100 acres.

Comment: Also see:

  • Wildfire in North Carolina expected to burn several more days
  • Colorado's wildfires continue to rage