August 26, 2014 - 4:33 PM
THOMPSON-OKANAGAN - The first weekend after the campfire ban was lifted, B.C. Wildfire crews were called to put out abandoned campfires across the region that could have resulted in much larger fires.
“We had nine abandoned campfires, we definitely did see the number of calls go up,” Fire Information Officer Kayla Pepper says. “It is a concern. None resulted in fires but if the weather had shifted, they definitely could have.”
The campfire ban, which was in place for over a month, was lifted last week after cool, wet weather lowered the fire danger rating in the region.
This year the fire centre has seen 305 fires burn a total of 3,567 ha and 50 per cent—153—were human-caused. The largest fire so far this season, more than 1,300 ha at Botanie Creek near Lytton, is believed to be human-caused, as is the Smith Creek fire in West Kelowna, which saw more than 2,500 people evacuated. Of all the fires larger than 100 ha in the fire centre so far this year, more than 70 per cent are thought to be human-caused.
Last year only 2,922 ha had burned by this time and 229 fires were lightning-caused. The 10-year average by this point is 439 fires and 8,011 ha.
“The 10-year statistics also include years like 2009, which was extremely active,” Pepper notes. “The fire activity we saw in July (this year) was a lot more than seen in (recent) previous years. August has seen more precipitation and cooler weather. It’s been welcome, but we’re still busy.”
There are still more than 40 active fires being monitored, mopped up or patrolled in the Kamloops Fire Centre and while all the fires in our fire centre are contained there are fires in other parts of the province not contained and Kamloops firefighters and support staff have been sent out to help.
As of earlier this week the fire danger rating ranged from low to moderate through most of the region though there were pockets of high. Pepper notes the forecast over the week could see the rating climb before the weekend.
“(The weather) could result in seeing more lightning fires pop up,” she says. “We are expecting to see more campers out this weekend. We do ask if campers do decide to do a fire, to do so responsibly.”
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News from © InfoTel News Ltd, 2014