The 2017 B.C. wildfire season is approaching one of the largest ever by area burned. (B.C. government)

B.C. Wildfire season approaching 2009 record

Estimated 8,450 square kilometres burned this season

After weekend winds spread B.C. Interior wildfires further, 2017 is shaping up to be the largest area burned on record, B.C. Wildfire Service estimates show.

The current estimate is 8,450 square kilometres affected, chief fire information officer Kevin Skrepnek said in his daily briefing Tuesday. Costs to the provincial service have exceeded $300 million, compared to $382 million for the full 2009 forest fire season.

The Hanceville-Riske Creek fire is currently the largest, estimated at 2,120 square kilometres. The Elephant Hill fire remains more than 50 km away from Kamloops and has not grown significantly since the weekend, Skrepnek said.

The service has issued its latest estimate of structures burned this summer, including 71 residences, 118 outbuildings, three commercial buildings, a bridge west of Quesnel and 117 other structures.

The evacuation order for the village of Clinton and the Highway 97 corridor from Cache Creek to Clinton is downgraded to alert as of 4 p.m. Tuesday, allowing traffic to travel that section of the highway for the first time since July 29.

Traffic enforcement on the highway has been provided to make sure evacuees and other local traffic are given precedence.

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