British Columbia

Hot, dry weather pushes fire danger to extreme

An upcoming stretch of warm, dry weather is expected to push the fire danger rating to extreme for more parts of British Columbia.

Human-caused fires could be a risk; officials ask people take extra precautions

A new recruit to the B.C. Wildfire Service wields a pulaski, as training crews try to extinguish an intentionally-lit brush fire. (Rafferty Baker/CBC)

An upcoming stretch of warm, dry weather is expected to push the fire danger rating to extreme for more parts of British Columbia.

Numerous spots in British Columbia already under extreme fire danger risk, including parts of the Cariboo, Kamloops and Southeast regions.

CBC Meteorologist Johanna Wagstaffe says it's been 14 days since rain was recorded by sensors at Vancouver International Airport.

She is forecasting the hot and dry weather will continue over the next week with parts of the Interior expected to hit 37C to 39C by Thursday.

And with almost no chance of lightning in the forecast, she also expects most wildfires that do start will be caused by humans.

(Government of British Columbia)

Human-caused fires a big problem

Max Birkner, the fire information officer with the Kamloops Fire Centre, says human-caused fires are already huge problem this year.

There are currently 54 fires (of less than 10 hectares each) throughout his region, he said, but only five of those were caused by lightning (the typical natural cause of wildfire).

"The rest of are either determined to be human-caused or they are still under investigation," he said. "That's quite a high number of human-caused fires."

Birkner said his team had to put out an additional 26 abandoned campfires on the weekend.

"Campfires are currently allowed [in the Kamloops region] but it's definitely not permitted to abandon them," he said.

He said campers and backcountry users should put enough water on an extinguished campfire and stir up the ashes so they're thoroughly soaked before leaving.

Fires should also be put out before campers turn in for a night as such a fire is considered unattended, he added.

"An unattended campfire is illegal to have. Put water on your campfire before you go to bed."

Marshmallows roasting over a campfire.
Many of the wildfires in the Kamloops fire region were human-caused, says fire information officer Max Birkner. (Roshini Nair/CBC)

Sam Waddington, a backcountry expert and councillor for the city of Chilliwack, described other ways fires can start.

Human-caused fires can include not putting out a cigarette properly, using firearms to shoot explosives like propane tanks and canisters, and motorized users on ATVs and dirt bikes idling their vehicles next to tall dry grass.

"There are some people who just don't care that their behaviour could have dire consequences to the environment and the area that they're currently using," he said.

"People have to hold their friends and family to account on good behaviour and best practices."

As of noon Tuesday, the only campfire ban in the province was in the Cariboo-Chilcotin Forest District west of the Fraser River and also throughout Itcha Ilgachuz Provincial Park.

The latest campfire bans can be found on the B.C. Wildfire Service website.

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With files from Daybreak South and The Early Edition