The Lakes District has had several rainy days over the past couple of weeks; campfires and open burning are now allowed after being prohibited for a short period; and the fire danger rating across most of the region is currently “low.”
So can residents assume that the 2016 wildfire season is over in Northern B.C.?
According to Haley Williams, fire information officer for the Northwest Fire Centre, the Northwest Fire Centre normally sees new fires into September and sometimes even into October. However, the current weather conditions make it unlikely that Northern B.C. will see any major fires.
“While it is hard to predict what September and October will look like, we’re unlikely to see any hazardous conditions in the near future,” said Williams. “It would take an extended period of warm and dry weather to raise the danger rating to a level that would result in any new fires becoming large or very active.”
The Northwest Fire Centre has had 76 fires since April 1, 2016. This is fairly close to the 10-year average of 84 fires at this time. Provincially, however, there have been significantly less fires than the 10-year average – 971 fires compared to an average of 1573.
Although the fire danger rating is currently low in Burns Lake, Williams says residents still need to be prepared and use caution with any burning. One of the reasons is because a number of firefighters in the Northwest Fire Centre have already finished for the summer and the majority finish their contracts at the end of September.
“We no longer have the same number of staff available to help suppress human-caused wildfires,” said Williams.
Some important campfire safety tips include having a hand tool or at least eight litres of water available nearby to completely extinguish a campfire. Campers must ensure that campfires are completely extinguished and the ashes are cold to the touch before leaving the area for any length of time.
Residents are also reminded not to light a campfire or keep it burning in windy conditions, and are encouraged to maintain a fuel-free area around the campfire, removing all flammable materials such as grass and kindling. In addition, campers should never leave a campfire unattended for any length of time.
Anyone planning to burn a pile larger than two metres high by three metres wide, or conduct a grass burn larger than 0.2 hectares (category three fires), must obtain a burn registration number ahead of time by calling 1-888-797-1717.