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Updated: Sun, 13 Jul 2014 23:19:00 GMT | By The Canadian Press, cbc.ca

B.C. heat wave increases concerns over forest fire risk



A photo taken July 9, 2014 shows the Euchiniko Lakes fire, burning across 410 hectares between the Prince George and Cariboo fire regions as of July 12. B.C. Wildfire Management Branch

A photo taken July 9, 2014 shows the Euchiniko Lakes fire, burning across 410 hectares between the Prince George and Cariboo fire regions as of July 12. B.C. Wildfire Management Branch

A provincewide heat wave in British Columbia is expected to hit record highs in the coming days, heightening concerns about wildfires.

Navi Saini of the B.C. Wildfire Management Branch said Sunday there were 55 wildfires across the province, with at least three large fires expected to take days to put out.

In northern B.C., near the Alberta border, 160 firefighters and 12 helicopters are battling a 3,800-hectare blaze close to Tumbler Ridge sparked a week ago.

Saini says there have been no casualties, but an evacuation order was issued to 200 people in three nearby oil and gas camps.

Forty-one firefighters and six helicopters are trying to put out another lightning-sparked fire that spread over an estimated 1,200 hectares near Quesnel, in the North Cariboo region, as of Sunday. On Sunday afternoon, an evacuation order was issued for a hunting and fishing lodge near that fire.

Twenty firefighters are also battling a 4,000-hectare blaze in northern B.C. near Williston Lake that started Thursday, and 21 firefighters from Ontario were expected to arrive in Kamloops to help with the B.C. firefighting efforts.

Record heat

Environment Canada says temperatures are expected to hit record highs along the province's South Coast this weekend.

David Wray, a meteorologist with the agency, says temperatures in the southern half of the province appear to be 10 to 11 C above normal for the time of year.

Wray says it is 8 to 10 C above normal for the northern half of B.C. where temperatures will likely break records next week.

Temperatures were averaging at 30 C or more provincewide as of Saturday.

- B.C. heat wave: 20 temperature records broken Sunday

- MORE |  7 tips for staying safe in B.C.'s heat wave

Wray says it is important to wear sunscreen this weekend because it will only take about 15 minutes for skin to get burned.

He says children or pets should not be left in cars, and people should drink plenty of water.

Vancouver Coastal Health, one of the Lower Mainland's health authorities, says there has not been any word of increases in patients suffering from heatstroke.

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