The wildfire situation in B.C. is heating up this August, but northern B.C., experiencing high precipitation, has a more positive outlook than other parts of the province.
Addressing a monthly fire forecast briefing, B.C.’s Forests Minister Katrine Conroy thanked the wildfire fighters and their support teams for their professionalism and hard work fighting this season’s blazes. She also noted increasing risk in August, particularly in southern B.C.
“It’s clear that there has been a significant shift in our weather from the cool, wet conditions we experienced in May and June that kept wildfire activity to a minimum as we are now well into the hot and dry weather of August,” she said.
According to Neal McLoughlin, Superintendent of Predictive Services for the BC Wildfire Service, July saw a high-pressure ridge bring high heat to the west coast. The ridge “broke down” at the end of the month, resulting in lightning and high winds. During that period, 121 new fires began, 74 per cent of which were lightning caused.
Northern parts of the province are seeing rain accompany the wind and thunderstorms.
“We’re seeing lots of rain in the north, and that’s good,” McLoughlin said. “The rain is a really good thing in the northern reaches of the province.”
Conroy and the Minister of Public Safety, Mike Farnworth, asked the public to be cautious and prepared during the wildfire season—both for people who live in high-risk regions and people who will be travelling through them.
Suggestions include staying informed about fire bans and advisories when making travel plans, wildfire-proofing homes by removing debris, and setting up emergency plans.
Roughly 1000 firefighters are trained and ready this season in BC. A total of 220 square kilometres of forest have burned in 528 wildfires this year, according to Conroy.
There are 91 active wildfires in the province. Six of these are considered fires of note, including blazes near Penticton and Lytton in southern B.C.