Backburn fires set to cut off fuel from an advancing wildfire near Ashcroft, 2017. The B.C. Wildfire Service is stepping up prescribed burns to keep fires from growing out of control. (Black Press files)

June rain will tell if B.C. is in for another hot wildfire season

Public safety minister says province’s crews are ready to go

B.C.’s first wildfire evacuation of the year isn’t a signal of another hot summer for fires in the province, Public Safety Minister Mike Farnworth says.

The Lejac fire near Fraser Lake, west of Prince George and in between the vast areas of Omineca and Tweedsmuir Provincial Parks, is the first major fire of the 2019 season, after two record-setting years for area burned in the province. The Lejac fire had its evacuation order downgraded to an alert over the weekend and was 70 per cent contained by Monday.

READ MORE: Evacuation order lifted for Fraser Lake fire

READ MORE: Wildfire near Kamloops still out of control

It’s not an unusual start or a harbinger of things to come, Farnworth said Monday.

“In fact it’s just slightly above average for a normal year,” he said. “The other key issue will depend on what we have in terms of rainfall precipitation in June. That is the bigger predictor of where the fire season is going.”

The B.C. Wildfire Service’s early summer outlook notes that a dry March was eased by normal April weather, and June is traditionally a wetter month. Lack of rain in May and June set up conditions for record fire damage in 2017 and 2018.

B.C. Wildfire Service crews are training for the season, many of them experienced people back for another year of protecting communities and the links that connect them.

“We’ve been out on reconnaissance flights, to find those fires that have been burning deep underground and smouldering over the winter, so we can get an early start on them if there are hotspots identified,” Farnworth said.

The province has a multi-media awareness campaign underway to remind people to be safe with any combustible materials.

“There are significant penalties in place for people who are found to have started fires, up to $1 million,” Farnworth said. “People need to be aware that careless activity, whether it’s a campfire or a cigarette butt out the window, can cause extraordinary damage. Two years ago, at least half the fires were human caused.”


@tomfletcherbc
tfletcher@blackpress.ca

Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter.

Just Posted

Wolves not to blame for Island’s deer and marmot populations, says researcher

Forestry practices, not predation, blamed for reduced numbers in prey animals

RCMP identify Sidney bank robbery suspect, believe he is still on Vancouver Island

Warrant issued for arrest of North Vancouver man for TD Bank robbery

B.C. man dies from rabies after contact with Vancouver Island bat

Last known case of human rabies in B.C. was 16 years ago

RCMP confirm foul play in death of 60-year-old Metchosin man

Police believe crime an isolated incident

Mercury tops out on top of the world: Alert in Nunavut warmer than Victoria

It’s the latest anomaly in what’s been a long, hot summer across the Arctic

VIDEO: Dashcam video captures moment Victoria cyclist struck

Police seeking cyclist captured in video

UPDATE: Youth seen with gun at Nanaimo mall, suspect now in custody

Woodgrove Centre shut down during police incident

PHOTOS: You should see what we heard at the Vancouver Island Music Fest

This year’s lineup included Colin James, Tom Cochrane and lots more

Crown recommends up to two-year jail term for former Bountiful leader

Crown says sentence range should be 18 months to two years for Bountiful child removal case

VIDEO: Wolf spotted swimming ashore on northern Vancouver Island

Island wolf population estimated at under 150 in 2008, says VI-Wilds

Island man narrowly escapes being run down by his own truck

Saanich resident working on his truck on Darwin Avenue, when it started to roll on him

SLIDESHOW: ‘Lightning’ hits Vancouver Island for annual Sproat Lake regatta

Alberni Valley Regatta Association hosted sixth annual races

SLIDESHOW: Vancouver Islanders gather for classic cars and cool aircraft

Campbell River’s annual Wings & Wheels event held at city’s airport

Diversity a Canadian strength, Trudeau says of Trump tweets at congresswomen

Trudeau avoided using Trump’s name when he was asked about the president’s Twitter comments

Most Read