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

On Cooking: Trust the reliable butcher

‘Aromas embraced my senses like a welcoming friend.’

Untrending: Happiness arrives like a hummingbird

‘Pay attention to the little things.’

Ruskin Dam project complete, road re-opens over bridge

Bash on the Bridge celebration Saturday.

RCACC 77th annual ceremonial review in Maple Ridge

Annual review included demonstrations and awards

Hilti opens new service centre in Pitt Meadows business park

Located on Airport Way in Golden Ears Business Park.

REPLAY: The best videos from across B.C. this week

In case you missed it, here’s a look at the replay-worth highlights from this week in the province

Wildfire crews watching for dangerous wind shift in High Level, Alta.

The Chuckegg Creek fire is raging out of control about three kilometres southwest of the town

UN urges Canada to take more vulnerable Mexican migrants from Central America

The request comes as the United States takes a harder line on its Mexican border

Mistrial declared in Jamie Bacon murder plot trial

Bacon was on trial for counselling to commit the murder of Person X

B.C. VIEWS: Money-laundering melodrama made for TV

Public inquiry staged to point fingers before 2021 election

Canadian homebuyers escaping high housing costs by moving to secondary cities

In British Columbia, exurbs have grown in the Hope Valley and Kamloops

Feds lay out proposed new rules for voice, video recorders in locomotives

Transport Canada wants to limit use of recorders to if a crew’s actions led to a crash

Raptors beat Bucks 100-94 to advance to franchise’s first-ever NBA Finals

Leonard has 27 points, 17 boards to lead Toronto past Milwaukee

Most Read