British Columbia

Hot, dry weather could spark more fires in southern B.C., wildfire service says

Sustained hot, dry weather could result in more wildfires in the southern half of B.C., officials say, and they want residents to remain vigilant despite one of the quietest fire seasons in the past decade.

B.C. has so far had one of the quietest wildfire seasons in the past 10 years despite 6 new fires this weekend

A small wildfire south-west of Kaslo on on the eastern edge of Kokanee Glacier Provincial Park, which began on the weekend of August 15, 2020. It currently poses no threat to surrounding communities. (B.C. Wildfire Service)

Sustained hot, dry weather could result in more wildfires in the southern half of B.C., officials say, and they want residents to remain vigilant despite one of the quietest fire seasons in the past decade.

The comments from the B.C. Wildfire Service come as Environment Canada issued special hot weather statements for several spots in the province's southern half.

The hot and dry conditions have resulted in six new wildfires this weekend, according to the B.C. Wildfire Service.

"And we're watching those spark-ups quite carefully because our season has been relatively quiet," said Sarah Hall, a fire information officer in Kamloops.

The good news is that all of the new fire activity has been small and in remote locations away from structures or where people live.

Hall said there are currently 23 fires burning across the province. To date 917 hectares have burned, which is significantly less than this time last summer, when more than 21,000 hectares of land was burning from 664 fires.

The 10-year average for the number of fires at this time of year is more than 1,000.

Any increased activity now has been well-handled by fire crews who are not stretched thin at this time, compared to other years, Hall said. 

"Our crews are extremely eager and they've been working hard this summer already in preparing, so we're sending them out very quickly," she said. "Small spark-ups are getting extinguished right away."

Environment Canada says the hot spell will be brief, but if it stretches on, Hall said plant material and other fuels could dry to the point where they become a fire hazard.

"It is very possible that fuels are drying out," she said.

Earlier in the season, fuel stayed wet due to rain and was not likely to catch fire, Hall said.

Now, hot, dry air now will make it more common for grass fires to spark up or for a campfire to get out of hand, she said.

She is asking people to be careful with campfires and report any new wildfire activity.

"We just have to remain vigilant," she said. "We haven't had a lot of smoke this year, which has been really great to spend time outside, but let's keep it that way."

In the meantime, a meteorologist with the Weather Network said some smoke from wildfires in California may be visible in parts of B.C. 

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