Latest heat wave renews wildfire concerns

There have been 112 wild fires in the Southeast Fire Zone so far this year.

There have been 112 wild fires in the Southeast Fire Zone so far this year, and nearly one-fifth of those were from last week’s thunderstorm.

“The conditions are right for naturally occurring fires,” said Fanny Bernard, forest information officer in the Southeast Fire Zone.

“Since last Thursday, we have had 31 new starts and 23 of those were from last week’s lightning storm.”

Bernard says that not all of the lightning-started fires ignited directly after the storm, but reignited after the rain dried up.

“Even in the area that received precipitation, some of the lightning strikes had ignited fuels which are temporarily abated by rainfall, she said.

“With the hot and dry weather we have had, they become active again.”

There are initial attack crews currently working to extinguish all of the burns, none of which are any threat to surrounding communities or buildings and Bernard says the fire centre is keeping an eye out for more burns in the future, especially with some storms predicted for the end of the week.

“So far, we have lightning and then hot weather,” she said.

“There is potential for thunderstorms at the end of this week and over the weekend and then hot and dry weather next week.”

Last week’s lightning-ignited fire near Casino, five kilometres from Trail, has been extinguished, says Bernard, and it never posed a threat.

Bernard wants to remind the public to remain vigilant when it comes to reporting potential wildfires to the right authorities.

“The public reports one-third of the wildfires we go to,” she said. “Report any suspected fire, even if you think that someone else may have seen it and already called it in. Call it in anyways.”

To keep the number of human-caused wildfires, Bernard has a few tips for the public, especially during the upcoming long weekend.

“The classic cigarette butt out the car windows, or even just putting them on the ground, has been known to start fires,” she said “Driving vehicles like ATVs over tall grass or any dry fuels, mechanical brushing,  and chainsaw use can create sparks that can hit fuels. Machinery hitting rocks, like excavators, can create sparks as well.”

When it comes to campfires, the same old rules apply.

“If you are lighting a campfire, remove any flammable fuels from the surrounding area, never leave your campfire unattended, have at least eight litres of water nearby and always have a hand tool, such as a shovel, but ideally both,” said Bernard. “Make sure your campfire is completely out, which means the ashes are cool to the touch, and keep an eye out for suspected fires and unattended campfires.”

As of press time, there was no campfire ban in place, but Bernard encourages the public to visit www.bcwildfire.ca for to-the-minute updates on the status of bans. Currently, there are bans on fireworks, sky lanterns and burning barrels.

To report a wildfire, a potential burn or ban violations, call 1-800-663-5555 or *5555 on a cell phone.

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