FILE – Backyard burning in Chilliwack, B.C. (Paul Henderson/ The Progress)

Seven small wildfires burning in B.C. as warm weather brings dry conditions

BC Wildfire Service urging caution as winter weather melts

The B.C. government is urging caution when doing any outdoor burning, as the recent stint of warm weather has caused dry conditions.

On Friday afternoon, a small wildfire was spotted just outside Cranbrook’s city limits. Fire crews were able to quickly respond to the blaze, estimated to be roughly seven hectares in size.

A second wildfire, burning 250 hectares large, sparked Saturday afternoon just outside of Kamloops in Chase.

Since the start of the year, there have been 17 wildfires reported across the province. Seven are currently classified as being held or under control.

The first was reported on Jackass Mountain, between Boston Bar and Lytton, on Feb. 26, and has since been put out by fire crews.

The largest was an estimated 30 hectares found burning near Morris Valley Road in the Fraser Valley on March 5.

“To help reduce the number of preventable wildfires, people wanting to light an open fire must watch for changing weather conditions and follow all burning regulations,” the forest ministry said in a statement Friday.

Recommended precautions include:

  • Ensuring that enough resources are on hand to control the fire and prevent it escaping.
  • Not burning during windy conditions. Weather conditions can change quickly and the wind may carry embers to other combustible material and start new fires.
  • Creating an appropriately sized fireguard around the planned fire site by clearing away twigs, grass, leaves and other combustible material, right down to the mineral soil.
  • Consider conducting smaller burns around the perimeter of the main fire site before lighting the main fire. This will create a fuel break and help prevent the fire spreading beyond its intended size.
  • Never leaving a fire unattended.
  • Making sure the fire is completely extinguished and the ashes are cold to the touch before leaving the area for any length of time.

While fire danger ratings are not calculated by the BC Wildfire Service until May 1, the recent warming in most B.C. regions has prompted a reminder from authorities that hot spots from prior wildfires can re-emerge due to “overwintering” fires.

This happens when a fire continues to smoulder deep underground through the winter months, and can flare up with the arrival of spring.

Burning regulations can be found on the BC Wildfire Service website.

Between April 2018 and March 2019 there were 2,112 wildfires, torching 1.3 million hectares of land. Roughly 40 per cent of fires are human-caused each year.

WATCH: Do you know the wildfire terms?


@ashwadhwani
ashley.wadhwani@bpdigital.ca

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