36 fires sparked May long weekend, most due to lightning: BC Wildfire

36 fires sparked May long weekend, most due to lightning: BC Wildfire

As warmer weather nears, chief fire officer Kevin Skrepnek says too soon to forecast summer

First comes flooding, then come wildfires.

With warmer conditions entering forecasts for most B.C. cities, BC Wildfire Service says its still too early to tell what kinds of inferno the province will be facing this summer.

B.C.’s chief fire information officer Kevin Skrepnek said lightning caused the majority of the 36 wildfires in northern parts of the province that sparked during the Victoria Day long weekend.

Since April 1, there have been 182 wildfires, with 77 currently burning Tuesday. Most are less than 50 hectares in size, according to the BC Wildfire Service, aside from a 612-hectare fire burning on Muddy Lake Road near Prince George.

Most concerning: of those 182 fires, 118 were human-caused, Skrepnek said.

“While a lot of these recent fires were the result of lightning, human activity is usually the key driver of fire starts at this time of year,” he said. “That could stem from people conducting open burning on their property, industry activity, railways, abandoned campfires, discarded cigarettes…”

UNDER EVACUATION: Some stay behind to protect their home

Skrepnek said these conditions are average for this time of year, and that none of the incidents so far have posed any significant threats to communities or infrastructure.

Last year, the largest fire to devastate B.C.’s interior – the Elephant Hill wildfire – burned 191,865-hectares in size at its peak. In January, RCMP confirmed that fire, which started in Cache Creek before spreading near 100 Mile House, was human caused.

READ MORE: Police confirm Elephant Hill human caused, setup tip line

Although the largest, Elephant Hill was one of 1,353 fires, leading to the evacuation of more than 65,000 people living in the Cariboo. The total cost to fight the fires, destruction and resources for those displaced totalled $586 million.

Whether B.C. sees another unseasonably-warm spring season leading to another record-breaking wildfire season has been on the minds of many British Columbians.

Skrepnek said much of that depends on the amount of rain that falls between now and Canada Day – also known as the “June rains.”

“Environment Canada models are suggesting a warmer than normal summer, but rain is a key factor for fire activity and is nearly impossible to forecast with any certainty more than a few days ahead of time,” he said.

“In 2017 we had a wet spring, but June was exceptionally dry and really set the stage for how destructive the rest of the summer was.”

Skrepnek said British Columbians living in fire-prone areas should familiarize themselves with the province’s FireSmart program, and get prepared ahead of the summer months.

“While we don’t yet have a crystal clear picture of what 2018 will look like, suffice to say we will have a wildfire season – it’s a fact of life in this province,” he said.


@ashwadhwani
ashley.wadhwani@bpdigital.ca

Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter.

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

Surrey-raised Tetsuro Shigematsu wrote and stars in “1 Hour Photo,” a Vancouver Asian Canadian Theatre’s production to be presented online by Surrey Civic Theatres on April 23-24. (submitted photo/Raymond Shum)
‘This Japanese kid who grew up in Whalley’ thrilled to return with acclaimed ‘1 Hour Photo’

City’s Digital Stage to show Tetsuro Shigematsu’s solo portrait of Mas Yamamoto

Steve Serbic, assistant chief of operations for the Surrey Fire Service, has written a book, “The Unbroken” delving into his struggles with post-traumatic stress. (Photo: Lauren Collins)
Surrey firefighter writes book to ‘be part of the change’ in stigma around post-traumatic stress

‘The Unbroken’ details Steve Serbic’s childhood, career and journey dealing with mental health issues

Everett Cummings in a tribute video posted to dignitymemorial.com.
Mechanic’s death at Surrey dock results in $200K fine for company, union says

Photos of rally outside Surrey court posted on ILWU’s ‘Kill A Worker Go To Jail’ Facebook page

Fish processing workers fillet farm-raised salmon in Surrey B.C. Photo courtesy BCSFA
Discovery Islands salmon farm removal impacts jobs in B.C.’s Lower Mainland: report

The City of Surrey is the hub of the salmon farming industry in Metro Vancouver

Recycling day in Newton. (Photo: Tom Zytaruk)
Surrey says no to fining residents for putting wrong items in disposal bins

Council rejects corporate report recommending penalties and fines be issued for garbage, recycling and organics contamination

Demonstrators at the legislature on April 14 called on the province to decriminalize drug possession and provide widespread access to regulated safe supply across B.C. (Jake Romphf/News Staff)
Rally calls for decriminalization, safe supply on 5th anniversary of overdose emergency declaration

From 2016 to the end of February, 7,072 British Columbians died due to overdose

(Government of Canada)
Liberal MP caught stark naked during House of Commons video conference

William Amos, in Quebec, appeared on the screens of his fellow members of Parliament completely naked

Provincial health officer Dr. Bonnie Henry updates B.C.’s COVID-19 situation at the B.C. legislature, Feb. 1, 2020. (B.C. government)
B.C.’s COVID-19 case count jumps to 1,168 Wednesday, nearly 400 in hospital

Now 120 coronavirus patients in intensive care, six more deaths

Moss covered branches are seen in the Avatar Old Growth Forest near Port Renfrew on Vancouver Island, B.C. Thursday, Sept. 29, 2011. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jonathan Hayward
B.C. blockades aimed at protecting old-growth forests reveal First Nation split

Two Pacheedaht chiefs say they’re ‘concerned about the increasing polarization over forestry activities’ in the territory

Richmond RCMP Chief Superintendent Will Ng said, in March, the force received a stand-out number of seven reports of incidents that appeared to have “racial undertones.” (Phil McLachlan/Capital News)
‘Racially motivated’ incidents on the rise in B.C’s 4th largest city: police

Three incidents in Richmond are currently being invested as hate crimes, says RCMP Chief Superintendent Will Ng

A still from the video taken of a violent arrest on May 30, 2020 in downtown Kelowna. (File)
Kelowna Mountie charged with assault for caught-on-camera violent arrest

Const. Siggy Pietrzak was filmed punching a suspected impaired driver at least 10 times during an arrest

A screenshot from a Nuu-chah-nulth healing song and performance created in collaboration between Hjalmer Wenstob and Timmy Masso. (Screenshot from YouTube)
VIDEO: Tla-o-qui-aht First Nation brothers produce COVID-19 healing song

Hjalmer Wenstob and Timmy Masso share dance and inspiration.

Health Canada headquarters in Ottawa. (Sean Kilpatrick/The Canadian Press)
Health Canada releases guidelines for reducing COVID-19 transmission at home

Improve indoor air quality by opening up your windows and doors, among the encouraged ventilation measures

Most Read