British Columbia

Rainy spring means B.C.'s wildfire season is still quiet, but that could soon change

Wildfire activity in B.C. is down drastically compared to recent years, thanks to plenty of rain in the last couple of months, but warm summer weather will likely bring a change in conditions.

Only active fire is burning out of control west of Merritt, but no structures are threatened

Firefighters in training. The B.C Wildfire Service has dealt with just 211 fires so far this year. (Ben Nelms/CBC)

Wildfire activity in B.C. is down drastically compared to recent years, thanks to plenty of rain in the past couple of months, but warm summer weather will likely bring a change in conditions.

So far this year, B.C. has had 211 wildfires with about 688 hectares burned. Those numbers are low even compared with 2019, a relatively quiet year for fires, when there had been 513 fires and 12,000 hectares burned at this point, according to the B.C. Wildfire Service.

Fire information officer Karley Desrosiers said a rainy spring and early summer helped increase the moisture content of soil in most parts of B.C., which has kept fires smaller and more manageable.

"We had a drier spring but moving into May, June there was a lot more precipitation," she told CBC.

There is currently just one fire larger than 90 square metres burning in all of B.C. — the Skuhun Creek wildfire, located west of Merritt on Highway 8.

As of Tuesday morning, the blaze measured 16 hectares and was burning out of control, but no structures are threatened.

"The fire is burning in steep and rocky terrain, which causes a few difficulties for our crews," fire information officer Madison Smith said.

There are two helicopters working on the fire and a total of 63 firefighters at the site. The cause remains under investigation.

So far this year, about 80 per cent of wildfires in B.C. are suspected to have been human caused, which means any source of ignition that isn't lightning.

The fire danger rating across most of the province remains somewhere between very low and moderate, but Smith warns that will likely change.

"As things start to warm up, we'll see fuel start to dry out, which will increase the fire danger rating," she said.

With files from Meera Bains and Zahra Premji

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