THOMPSON-OKANAGAN – There is concern over the number of human-caused fires that have happened so far this year in the Kamloops Fire Centre, especially considering how close many have been to urban centres.
In the past week there have been notable fires at Kalamoir Regional Park near Kelowna, Bose Lake near Logan Lake, one on the reserve just southwest of Ashcroft and near the Kelowna Airport. Several smaller ones have also popped up throughout the region.
Fire information officer Melissa Welsh says 79 per cent of wildfires have been human-caused this year, and this type tends to be closer to urban centres.
“Any time you have human-caused fires there's a strong chance it will be in urban interface areas,” Welsh says, adding that while some fire haves been in the backcountry they have been close enough to threaten urban centres if they were to escalate at all.
B.C. Wildfire reports 90 fires in the zone were caused by humans so far this year and only 24 are considered lightning caused. The spread is much higher than what is normally seen at this time of year and well below the 50-50 split that typically occurs in a fire season.
Welsh does expect it to even out more when we head into the fall but until then it is hard to say whether we will end up with a worse than normal season, given the current conditions and how unpredictable human-caused fires are.
“With the hot and dry conditions the fire danger rating has climbed,” Welsh says, “Overall it is high with many pockets of extreme.”
She expects there to be many more extreme ratings by the end of the weekend as increased winds add to the risk. Temperatures have been soaring into the 30s for over a week with only a few days this month at or below normal temperatures through much of the region.
“Winds will push us into extreme danger ratings,” Welsh explains. “We will be increasing patrols to make sure everyone is complying with campfires, those that are too large or left unattended.”
Campfires can escalate quickly and cause serious fires, even those people think they have put out, she says.
“Just because it's not producing smoke doesn't mean it's out... they can flare up quickly,” Welsh says. “Eight litres of water should be enough to make sure it's properly out, and a shovel to really dig up the fire.”
The fire season is still early on and could last through October depending on conditions. A key part in suppression is detecting where the fire is, and the public plays a big part in that. If you see a wildfire or an unattended campfire, call *5555 on your cell or toll-free at 1-800-663-5555.
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