Ban on open burning is still ongoing. (File photo)

Spring wildfire season expected to be normal throughout B.C.

BCWS continues to warn people against open burning

  • May. 27, 2020 12:00 a.m.

With an unusually dry April throughout B.C., a worry over Spring wildfire season took a hold in people’s minds. However, the BC Weather Services (BCWS), in their seasonal outlook released that the rains and the existing snow packs have kept the wildfires under control. They have also pointed out that as of May, people can expect normal spring fire conditions.

“We are seeing, with the snow pack combined with the precipitation, the wildfire fuel conditions are near normal throughout the province as of this Spring,” informed Cathy L’Orsa, Communications Specialist, with BCWS, Northwest Fire Centre.

The Northwest Fire Centre, which is located in Smithers, is responsible for fire response for the 25 million hectares area from the west coast to west of Endako, and from the border of Yukon to Tweedsmuir Provincial Park. The area, that mainly has pine, spruce and some balsam trees, has had a patchy snow pack this year and saw some pockets of deep dryness in the far northwest. However, the April snow pack numbers, that were above normal in the area, have balanced it all out according to L’Orsa.

L’Orsa also pointed out that it was too early to make any predictions for the Summer wildfire season as a lot of what happens with the wildfires in Summer, depends on the June rains.

BCWS predicts the wildfire season based on a number of different factors such as predicting temperatures, the relative humidity, the snow packs from last year, the precipitation that is received, the various conditions that would affect soil moisture, fine fuel moisture content, and vegetation growth, etc. Only after looking at these different factors can the BCWS “take guesses on how a fire will behave or how likely it is to spread once they do start.”

In the May 8 seasonal outlook, BCWS noted that “since April 1, 2020, B.C. has experienced 111 wildfires, about 83 per cent of which have been confirmed as human-caused.” This has become a big problem in the area, despite the province-wide ban on open burning.

“We are still seeing a lot of people doing open burning, which is forcing us to get our crews together and interact with each other and interact with public, which is one thing we are really trying to avoid with the COVID situation,” said L’Orsa.

According to the seasonal outlook, since April 1, B.C. experienced 111 wildfires, of which about 83 per cent were confirmed as human-caused. On May 4, a house fire at Decker Lake that completely destroyed the structure, was caused by open burning. Some burning grass that got away, had caused the fire. L’Orsa informed that the Bish Creek fire near Kitimat that was reported in early May, is also believed to be human-started.

“We are just reminding everyone that we have had a fire prohibition on, and it is still on, and now that we are heading into our more natural wildfire season, so the chances of lightening are increasing. We just always want everyone to be careful,” concluded L’Orsa.

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