July 05, 2014 - 8:53 AM
THOMPSON-OKANAGAN - Hot, dry and stormy. June was not an ideal month throughout the Kamloops Fire Centre and concerns July could be a very active fire season are still very real.
Overall temperatures were slightly above normal and slightly less rain fell. Combined with periods of lightning activity this led to more than 40 new wildfires in June. Most of the activity happened in the Okanagan part of the region though the largest fire, at 10.6 ha, was just west of Kamloops at Juniper Beach.
Fire Information Officer Kayla Pepper says many areas are expecting the same type of warm, dry weather heading through the summer, which gives the potential for an active fire season.
“Most (fires) are determined by the short term weather,” she notes. “We do have the potential for an active fire season, but we have to wait and see.”
Currently the fire danger ratings sits at moderate throughout most of the region though the Salmon Arm, Lillooet, Lytton and Merritt areas are sitting at ratings of high to extreme. Lightning expected over the next couple days could lead to more fires as well, especially in the Okanagan and Shuswap areas, where one lightning-start fire has already been reported.
Pepper says of the 41 fires in June nearly half were started by lightning. That still leaves 21 the fire centre believes to be human caused, for a total of 79 since April 1, and that is the most disconcerting fact about this season so far.
“It’s still a concern,” she notes. “79 person-caused fires are 79 preventable fires.”
She says there have been a number of unattended campfires as well as party fires (bonfires) they have been called out to.
Pepper reminds people the maximum size of campfires is half a metre wide by half a metre tall and asks everyones to make sure all fires are fully extinguished before leaving a campsite.
She also stresses the need for the public to report any smoke or flame they see.
“We need the public to report,” she says. “Open burning is prohibited throughout the entire region, so if you see any smoke or flames call it in. Don’t assume someone else has called in. It’s better to call than to not call.”
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News from © InfoTel News Ltd, 2014