As thousands flee homes across British Columbia from wildfires, chiefs in one region report progress

Smoke from the McDougall Creek fire is seen over Okanagan Lake on Thursday from Kelowna, British Columbia. (Joe O'Connal/The Canadian Press via AP)

VANCOUVER, British Columbia — As tens of thousands of people were under evacuation orders across British Columbia and firefighters battled raging wildfires throughout Canada on Sunday, fire chiefs in a region known as a summer destination for families said they’ve made some progress in the struggle.

There’s “finally a bit of a glimmer of hope,” West Kelowna Fire Chief Jason Broland told a news conference of the progress being made in the Lake Okanagan region of southern British Columbia, an area of picturesque resort towns surrounded by mountains.


“The weather has allowed us to make progress,” he said, adding that crews were able to conduct more traditional firefighting techniques such as putting out hot spots.

If “conditions hold as they are,” he said, fire crews will start to see “real progress being made in a measurable way. And that finally is a bit of a glimmer of hope for us.”

Meanwhile, hundreds of fires continued to rage across British Columbia and 35,000 people were under evacuation orders Sunday.

“It is still very much dynamic,” said Jerrad Schroeder, a British Columbia Wildfire Service chief. “There’s still portions of this fire that we just have not prioritized.”

The provincial government has issued a state of emergency and urged people not to travel for non-essential reasons to the central interior and southeast portions of the province due to “significant” wildfire activity.

Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau announced the approval of British Columbia’s request for federal assistance and said the government was deploying assets from the Canadian Armed Forces to assist in evacuations. “We’ll continue to be here with whatever support is needed,” he said on X, formerly known as Twitter.

Canada has seen a record number of wildfires this year that have also caused choking smoke in parts of the U.S. All told, there have been more than 5,700 fires, which have burned more than 137,000 square kilometers (53,000 square miles) from one end of Canada to the other, according to the Canadian Interagency Forest Fire Centre.

There are still more than 1,000 active fires in the country, according to the agency.

Meanwhile, firefighters were working Sunday to keep blazes at bay near the capital of Canada’s Northwest Territories, where forecasters warned that drier and windier weather was coming.

The break that firefighters defending Yellowknife got from milder weather and a small amount of rain was expected to end, as temperatures were forecast to climb higher.

That blaze is one of 237 wildfires burning in the Northwest Territories.

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