The Meachen Creek fire near St. Mary Lake had Kimberley under an evacuation alert last August. Kraven Photography Kimberley Bulletin file.

Forestry warns of hot spots from last season’s fires

Fires can re-emerge after smouldering underground through the winter

As weather warms, it is already time to start thinking about forest fires.

The Ministry of Forests, Lands, Natural Resource Operations and Rural Development is warning that areas of the province that were affected by wildfires last summer could see some hot spots re-emerge from last year’s fires.

An overwintering fire can occur when a wildfire that burned deep underground last year has continued to smoulder all winter long. Given the extent and intensity of many wildfires in the summer of 2018, some of these residual hot spots could flare up with the arrival of warmer and drier weather this spring.

Overwintering fires can remain dormant and undetected all winter long, but hot spots may re-emerge.

Given the large size of many wildfires in B.C. last year, some wildfires burned deep into organic soil layers, increasing the likelihood that overwintering fires will emerge in the spring.

The most common visual signs are smoke, smouldering ground or open flame within the wildfire’s original perimeter (the outer boundary of a fire).

Most overwintering fires will occur well within the original fire’s perimeter. Many areas near communities where wildfires burned last year are being actively patrolled by firefighters and scanned using thermal imaging technology.

It is standard practice for the BC Wildfire Service to monitor previous wildfire sites to ensure that any flare-ups from overwintering fires are located and suppressed if necessary. However, members of the public are encouraged to report any wildfire or smoke they see, even if it is located within the perimeter of a previous fire.

The majority of overwintering fires will remain well within the original fire’s perimeter.

Overwintering fires present a limited risk to communities, since previous wildfire areas near communities have been scanned using thermal-imaging technology and were patrolled extensively by firefighters.

However, any wildfire activity should be reported, even if it is within a previous wildfire perimeter. Call 1 800 663-5555 toll-free or *5555 on a cellphone.

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