THOMPSON-OKANAGAN - With 455 wildfires already on the books in the Kamloops Fire Centre, this season is shaping up to come in well above 10-year averages, but no where near the 2009 numbers.
Of the 455 wildfires which tore through the fire centre so far this season, 148 have been human-caused, just below the 10-year average of 159 human-caused fires per season.
At this point last year the region saw only 314 fires, though the 10-year average is 430 wildfires as of Sept. 3.
With 10,308 hectares burned in those 455 fires the fire centre is well above the 10-year average of 7,275 ha and nearly triple the 3,567 ha burned last year by this time, but well below the 2009 fire season, when 999 fires took out more than 50,000 ha in the Kamloops Fire Centre.
Of the 10,308 ha burned, 4,295 are from the Testalinden Creek fire in the South Okanagan. That fire, the only current fire of note in the centre, is the single largest fire in the region so far this year, well above the Cisco Road fire near Lytton, which came in at number two for number of hectares burned with 2,214. The Newby Lake fire also burned more than 2,000 ha and about a dozen other fires came in at between 100 and 600 ha burned.
Nearly 300,000 ha have burned in 1,798 wildfires across the province so far this year. While the Kamloops Fire Centre has seen the second most number of fires, only the Southeast Fire Centre had more at 563, it has also had the second lowest number of hectares burned, the Cariboo Fire Centre has had just 9,770 ha burned this year. The largest fire in the province has been the Wadin Creek fire in northern B.C. The lightning-caused fire reached 60,000 ha in size and was not an interface fire.
Currently there are only nine active wildfires in the fire centre. While the Testalinden Creek fire is 60 per cent contained 215 crew members, including support personnel, remain on scene along with six helicopters and 13 pieces of heavy equipment. The fire is considered to be in the mop-up stages and an evacuation alert remains in place.
While things are cooling down, Max Birkner of the Kamloops Fire Centre says they continue to get fire calls every day. There is also concern the cooler weather will make people less cautious over the long weekend.
“Fire season is winding down. We’re expecting cool weather and less lightning, so we’re expecting (fire activity) will go down,” Birkner says. “That being said people will have to be very careful on the long weekend. The campfire ban has been rescinded, but open burning… is still not permitted.”
Birkner reminds anyone planning on having a campfire they are required to have water or a shovel on hand to properly extinguish the fire and to not light fires in high winds.
“Just be extremely cautious,” he notes.
The Kamloops Fire Centre encompasses an area of south central B.C. extending from Blue River in the north to the U.S. border in the south, and from the Bridge River in the west to the Monashee Mountains in the east, covering the Kamloops, Clearwater, Lillooet, Salmon Arm, Merritt, Vernon and Penticton fire zones.
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