Early heat wave in B.C., has Wildfire Service hoping for signs of wet June

FILE PHOTO - An air tanker drops retardant on a fire in West Kelowna in the summer of 2015.

KAMLOOPS - As much of the British Columbia Interior prepares for several days of summer-like temperatures, the provincial wildfire service is taking a longer view.

Environment Canada forecasts a record high 31 degrees in Kamloops Monday, while Quesnel and Fort St. John are expecting highs of 26, and the forecast calls for 27 degrees in Squamish, north of Vancouver. Environment Canada is calling for highs of 24 Celsius to 29 C throughout the valley this week.

The heat arrives as provincial fire information officer Kevin Skrepnek says the B.C. Wildfire Branch is scanning the monthly weather outlook, hoping to get a sense of the upcoming fire season.

He says predictions show the summer should be warmer than normal across the province.

But everything depends on expected June rainfall, and if those rains arrive Skrepnek says wildfires over the summer should not be as intense.

June rains were absent across B.C. last year and that combined with the very low snow pack led to wildfires that charred nearly 3,000 square kilometres of woodland, costing the province nearly $300 million.

Skrepnek says forecasting rain is very difficult more than a few days ahead.

"We are pretty confident, based on outlooks, that we are in store for ... a little bit warmer than usual," he said.

"That rain is really key to the wildfire situation."

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