Firefighters kept busy after lightning storm

A burst of lightning Wednesday morning sparked 26 new fires in the Southeast Fire Centre region in the last week.

Nothing like rubbing a little lightning on your geography to create a rash of spot fires during this hot summer weather spell.

A burst of lightning Wednesday morning sparked 26 new fires in the Southeast Fire Centre region in the last week, but the majority of them were spot fires, said fire information officer Karlie Shaughnessy.

A spot fire can be as small as one tree or up to one metre square, she said, but the centre still responds considering the tinder dry conditions building in the backcountry.

“A lot of the fires are spot fires right now but our crews go out and put them out right away,” she said.

The closest fires to the Greater Trail region were a pair of lightning caused spot fires near Salmo—on Dodge Creek Forest Service Road and on Baird Creek—but one is considered extinguished while the municipal fire department in Salmo handled the other.

Currently there is only one active fire larger than 10 hectares in the entire region.  The lightning caused Skimmerhorn fire, located 18 kilometres southeast of Creston, is the region’s biggest blaze at 25 ha.

Using 34 firefighters and four helicopters, the fire is located in difficult, steep terrain. Shaughnessy said this was not an interface fire.

“No communities or structures are threatened, however, the fire is highly visible to surrounding communities,” she said.

There have only been three other fires this year in the Southeast Fire Centre region bigger than 10 ha., including three fires now doused: Oxbow Birdstone pasture (75 ha.); Dutch Creek (53.3 ha.); and Brown Creek (14.5 ha.).

The Southeast has been relatively unscathed this year by fire, having the second lowest total fires to date of 68 (northwest was 61). Kamloops has the most with 247. However, the Southeast has had 197 ha. burned to date, fourth highest out of the six provincial fire centres but far behind Prince George’s 18,169 ha. for the most hectares burned.

Lightning is in the forecast for evenings for the rest of the week, said Shaughnessy, so the spot fire reaction could continue for a few more days.