Worst may almost be over for 2018 B.C. wildfire season

BC Wildfire Service officials say cool, wet weather is ahead, though not for everywhere

The worst of the B.C. wildfire season may be over.

According to chief fire information office Kevin Skrepnek, there is a lot less fire activity occurring in the province, temperatures are cooling, and the risk of dry lighting is tapering off.

“We are heading into a fairly cool, wet pattern. It’s probably safe to say the worst is over,” Skrepnek said. “But, there are definitely some areas of the province that are still very much under threat. It is also not uncommon to see a relatively warm September as well.”

A record number of hectares have burned this fire season at an estimated 1,252,000 hectares, the previous record being in 2017 at 1,216,000 hectares.

“That jump in number wasn’t due to a dramatic increase in fire activity or anything like that,” he said. “It was just based on better mapping, as we were contending with such a thick cloud of smoke over the province. So, getting an accurate number on these fires had been quite challenging.”

RELATED: 2018 now B.C.’s worst wildfire season on record

Skrepnek cautioned that while 2018 does hold the record for hectares burned, it doesn’t correlate to impact on people and property.

“Looking at 2003 and last year just to name a few, definitely the overall impact of those years to property, values and timber values was quite a bit higher than this year.”

RELATED: 2017 wildfire season will go down as “unprecedented”

The total cost to date for the BC Wildfire Service for strictly fire suppression is $360 million.

“Looking at the last five years, at money spent in terms of this date, this would be the second most spent with the first being last year,” said Skrepnek. “For comparison sake, as of this date in 2017, our estimated cost we are sitting at a little over $442 million.”

Fire crews are making good progress on the blazes raging in the province:

  • 512 fires burning throughout the province
  • 5 new fire starts on Aug. 30
  • Since April 1, BC Wildfire has responded to 2,015 fires
  • More than 4,500 personnel fighting fires, including 850 out-of-province personnel, including 51 firefighters from Washington state
  • More than 1,400 contractors from the B.C. forestry industry assisting
  • 230 aircrafts flying in support of ground crews
  • 770 RCMP members or civilian members deployed in support of B.C. wildfires, including Alberta RCMP tactical officers

According to Jessica Post with Emergency Management BC, the agency is maintaining a “response posture” with an eye on the recovery process.

Currently in B.C. there are:

  • 31 evacuation orders affecting 1,551 properties
  • 54 evacuation alerts affecting 10,475 properties
  • 4 regional operation centres active – Nelson, Prince George, Kamloops and Terrace, plus the provincial operation centre in Victoria
  • 19 emergency social service reception centres
  • Some First Nations communities have offered support to evacuees

Heading into the Labour Day long weekend, there is a shift in the weather pattern for the entire province.

High summer temperatures are no longer expected, and based on information provided to BC Wildfire, those summer-like conditions are not likely to return.

The cool weather is likely to persist over the weekend with temperatures dipping to unseasonably cool in some areas.

A low-pressure system moving across most of the province on Saturday will bring widespread rain, but there are still areas that may not see any precipitation.

“Unfortunately, in the central part of the province, those corridors from Smithers to Prince George, where we’ve got a lot of these major fires burning, that is one of the areas in the rain shadow and has not seen much precipitation,” Skrepnek said.

Crews in the north are expecting a challenging day on Friday, with forecasted winds that could increase fire behaviour.

“We do still have a campfire ban in place for most of the province, with the exception of the fog zone on the west coast of Vancouver Island and for some parts of northeast B.C. where they have seen considerable amount of rain.”

Area restrictions remain in affect in regions where wildfires continue to burn. The BC Wildfire Service is asking the public to avoid active wildfire sites.


@Jen_zee
jen.zielinski@bpdigital.ca

Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter.

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

Chernove set to take on epic 1,000 kilometre cycling challenge

A local Paralympian is taking on an epic cycling challenge. Tristen Chernove… Continue reading

From baseball stars to forest fires: Southeast Fire Centre water bomber has an interesting past

Tanker 489 is stationed in Castlegar this year, but in the 1960s it belonged to the L.A. Dodgers.

Cranbrook RCMP looking for vehicle, driver involved in hit and run

RCMP are looking for the owner of a white Toyota Corolla that fled the scene

Cranbrook Cenotaph names get a touch-up

Legion members repaint 166 names, marking three wars, for the first time in monument’s history

BookNotes: The Australian prison colony’s first lending library

The books brought over by various officers proved quite popular with the convicts

B.C. identifies 20 new COVID-19 cases, travellers specified in count

Pandemic total 3,028 cases, 51 people from outside Canada

Survey, hotline launched amid probe into racist blood-alcohol guessing game at B.C. hospital

Mary Ellen Turpel-Lafond has been appointed to lead an investigation by Health Minister Adrian Dix

Canadian policing organization calls for decriminalization of simple illicit drug possession

Canadian Association of Chiefs of Police want policing focus of opioid crisis to be replaced with a health one

Filing deadline in RCMP sexual-harassment class-action extended due to COVID-19

Plaintiffs now have until January 2021 to submit claims for up to $222,000

Jamie Bacon pleads guilty to charge in Surrey Six case

The plea brings an end to a complex legal case that has spanned more than a decade

Hefty undeclared driver charges piling up, ICBC warns customers

Average extra penalty $2,971 after an at-fault accident

B.C. appeals judge’s decision to leave three clubhouses in Hells Angels hands

The province has filed two notices of appeal related to the B.C. Supreme Court decision

Conservation officers relocate Spirit bear known to roam northwestern B.C.

Bear roamed valley north of Terrace for many years

B.C. premier applauds call to decriminalize drug possession

Police shouldn’t struggle with health issues, Horgan says

Most Read