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

Runners brave wet, windy weather for Ucluelet’s 20th Edge to Edge

“The spirit of the runners I have nothing but compliments.”

ELECTION 2019: NDP’s Gord Johns re-elected in Courtenay-Alberni

Conservative Byron Horner finishes second, with Green Party’s Sean Wood third

Trudeau has won the most seats — but not a majority. What happens next?

Trudeau will have to deal with some of the implications of Monday’s result

LIVE MAP: Results in Canada’s 2019 federal election

Polls are now closed across the country

ELECTION 2019: Here are the results from our 12 B.C. races to watch

Incumbents mostly won our 12 key races, but there were a few upsets too

Raptors Bling: NBA champions receive their rings in pre-game ceremony

There are over 650 diamonds — at a weight of 14 carats — in the 14-karat yellow gold ring

Trudeau: Climate and pipeline are priorities after election

Newly re-elected Trudeau wants to build the Trans Mountain pipeline expansion quickly

‘Find Trevor’: B.C. man’s dog leads searchers to rescue him after fall during hike

‘I’ve had lots of intelligent dogs, but Purple is in a class herself’

15 Canadian youths to sue Ottawa for not acting on climate change

They say young people will be more affected than other groups

Faster response may have prevented fatal outcome at B.C. trampoline park

Coroner’s report rules Greater Victoria father Jay Greenwood’s death accidental

100-pound pumpkin stolen a second time from B.C. business

According to security footage, a man and woman took the pumpkin on Oct. 20 at 8:20 p.m.

Greta Thunberg declines invitation to Victoria due to time, not ferry emissions

Thunberg confirmed that she will be joining a climate strike at the Vancouver Art Gallery on Friday

‘Havoc and chaos:’ Alberta separatist group gains support as Liberals re-elected

The idea is getting interest from people in Saskatchewan, Manitoba and parts of British Columbia

Feds decriminalizing drugs possible if Jagmeet Singh pushes for it, expert says

National pharmacare was one of Singh’s most highly-touted platform policies

Most Read