With temperatures rising and wildfire risks already elevated across much of B.C., the government is urging residents to exercise "extreme caution" over the long weekend.

The Ministry of Forests said travellers should check for road closures, evacuation alerts, evacuation orders, park closures and other prohibitions before leaving home for the B.C. Day weekend.

"This year's fire season is turning into one of the most challenging on record," Forests Minister Katrine Conroy said in a news release Friday.

"We all must do our part to reduce wildfire risks. I urge everyone to remain vigilant, be cautious and stay informed about wildfire activity in their area."

Officials said smokers must dispose of their cigarette butts and other materials responsibly, and homeowners should clear branches and other potential wildfire fuel from their gutters, balconies, doorways and other areas. The government also recommended mowing "any grass within 10 metres of your home regularly, preferably to a height of 10 centimetres or less."

Campfire bans remain in effect for most of the province, except for Haida Gwaii, the Northwest Fire Centre and most of the Prince George Fire Centre. Category 2 and 3 open fires are prohibited across B.C.

The Ministry of Forests noted that just over one-third of the 1,250 wildfires sparked so far this year in B.C., which have burned upwards of 450,000 hectares of land, have been human-caused.

As of Thursday evening, there were 3,058 properties under evacuation order and 18,691 more under evacuation alert as result of the wildfires still active across the province.

Earlier this month, the province declared a state of emergency over the fire situation, and officials said the B.C. Wildfire Service is using "all its available resources" to fight the fires that are already raging.

In Vancouver, the park board decided to close Stanley Park overnight indefinitely due to the fire risk.


Meanwhile, another heat wave has prompted Environment Canada heat warnings in 19 regions of B.C., mostly in the southern and coastal areas.

The weather agency said a ridge of high pressure is sending temperatures soaring Friday through Saturday night, but that "relatively cooler temperatures" should be coming to the South Coast by Sunday. Other parts of the province won't get relief until next week.

"Watch for the effects of heat illness: swelling, rash, cramps, fainting, heat exhaustion, heat stroke and the worsening of some health conditions," reads a warning issued early Friday morning.

"Drink plenty of water even before you feel thirsty and stay in a cool place."

Environment Canada also urged British Columbians to check in on older family, friends and neighbours to ensure they are keeping cool. The risks associated with high temperatures are greater for older people, young children, pregnant women, those with chronic illnesses, and people working or exercising outdoors.

On Friday afternoon, the B.C. government announced a number of measures intended to protect vulnerable people during hte latest heat wave, including increased ambulance staffing.

The last heat wave that struck in late June and early July is believed to have contributed to 580 deaths, according to the latest figures from the B.C. Coroners Service.