A B.C. Forest Service employee builds a firebreak near the Cisco Road fire near Lytton Tuesday

Hot start for forest fires in B.C.

B.C. has recorded almost 500 fires, a quarter of the total for an average season

B.C. started the week with seven new wildfires on its map, for a total of 470 recorded so far in a hot start to the 2015 forest fire season.

More than 60,000 hectares have burned so far, most of that from 150 fires in the Prince George fire centre region. An average season in B.C. records about 2,000 fires, half of them human-caused.

Two new fires were reported on southeasterm Vancouver Island and a third at Nimpkish Lake on northern Vancouver Island this week. By Wednesday there were 14 new and active fires in the Kootenay and Okanagan regions.

Environment Canada forecast a 60 per cent chance of rain by Friday in the Kamloops and Prince George areas, with continued dry weather expected through the weekend in the Lower Mainland and Vancouver Island. Chilliwack set temperature records at the beginning of this week, and drier than normal conditions have prevailed across much of the province.

The Cisco Road fire south of Lytton in the Fraser Canyon grew to 1,370 hectares and was only 20 per cent contained as of Wednesday. The Lytton First Nations issued an evacuation order and other areas of the Thompson Nicola Regional District were on evacuation alert, with sprinklers deployed to protect threatened buildings.

The Little Bobtail Lake fire west of Prince George was contained at about 25,000 hectares with no loss of structures, but its intense burn weakened root systems of standing trees and people were still being warned to avoid the area.

Another large fire burned 18,000 hectares near Fort Nelson before it was contained with the help of rainfall.