Thunderstorms, lightning strikes a concern 

State of emergency on Galiano Island

Environment Canada’s weather forecast for the Whistler-Pemberton area includes a risk of thunderstorms today, which has raised fears of lightning strikes leading to wildfires in the region.

Sixty new fires were started across B.C. Sunday, most of them caused by lightning in the Cariboo area. However, the extended period of high temperatures the province has been experiencing and the large tracts of forest killed by pine beetle infestation has firefighters on high alert.

One of the largest firefighting operations underway Monday was on Galiano Island, where a state of emergency has been declared. The state of emergency gives firefighters the power to do whatever they deem necessary to protect property and individuals.

Approximately 200 Galiano residents have been evacuated.

The fire, which is threatening homes, is being fought by 40 firefighters, four helicopters and three airtankers. The cause of the fire is under investigation.

Locally, the forecast for both Whistler and Pemberton includes a risk of thunderstorms this afternoon, which could lead to lightning strikes. The forecast for the remainder of the week is continuing hot and sunny.

The wildfire danger rating in the Coastal Fire Centre region is currently at high to extreme. Bans on backyard burning and industrial pile burning remain in effect throughout the Coastal Fire Centre.

To date this season, there have been 135 wildfires in the Coastal Fire Centre, 85 per cent of which were person-caused.

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