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B.C. wildfire risk could rise with hot, dry summer

Last Updated Jun 1, 2021 at 3:12 pm PDT

Photo taken by a BC wildfire Service member as crews continue to fight major wildfires. (Courtesy BC Wildfire Service via Twitter)

Higher temperatures and less rain than usual expected in B.C. this summer

Hot, dry summer come with an increased risk of wildfires and smoky skies through July, August and September

BC Wildfire Service says this year’s fire season has been average so far

VANCOUVER (NEWS 1130) — With forecasters calling for a hotter, drier summer in B.C., that could mean a bad wildfire season and smoky skies.

Forecasters are expecting a very warm season ahead for the southern and central coast of B.C., with less rain than usual. It’s expected to be even hotter and drier for the southern and central interior, heightening the risk for wildfires and poor air quality, especially during July, August, and September.

Taylor Colman with the BC Wildfire Service says crews are ready, but the season has been at or below average with 264 fires since April 1 and about 2,175 hectares burned.

“In comparison to 2020, we’re pretty much around that similar range. We had in, 2020, 152 fires with 670 hectares being burned. And then in 2019, we had 220 fires with over 10,000 hectares burned by June 1,” Coleman explains. “So we’re still sort of hanging out in that low to normal range in terms of statistics.”

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She says the fire danger in our forests depends on what the rainfall is like in June, so it will be a few weeks before we know what the later season might look like.

“We’ll be looking at the amount and frequency of precipitation because that’ll be a really good predictor of what fire season will bring.”

She is warning people to be careful, since 90 per cent of the fires so far recorded this year have been human-caused.

“As always, be cautious with fire use [and] check with local government or jurisdictional authority before lighting a fire of any size. The same for burning in windy conditions. And be prepared with ample water and tools to thoroughly extinguish any fire.”

Coleman says, so far, they are “adequately staffed in B.C.” for the anticipated wildfire activity.

“We’ve got all of our staff onboarded. We’ve got COVID protocols in place related to physical distancing and other precautions to support crews while they respond to wildfires.”