Rain and high humidity save the day for wildfire crews

B.C. Wildfire crews were bouncing from fire to fire over the long weekend. The majority were less than a hectare in size.
Image Credit: B.C. Wildfire Management Branch

If it wasn’t for the rain that accompanied the thunderstorms that blasted through the Thompson-Okanagan on the long weekend, it would have been a scary situation for B.C Wildfire.

All but one of the 74 forest fires sparked by lighting strikes has been classified as a spot fire; less than a hectare in size.

Most of the fires were sparked in the Kamloops area. Only 12 were reported in the Okanagan from Vernon to Penticton.

“The major of the small wildfires were north of Clearwater,” fire information officer Michaela Swan said. “Only one fire got larger than one hectare. A fire burning near Pyramid Falls north of Blue River.”

The Pyramid Falls forest fire is 8 hectares in size. It’s in an area that’s quite remote and very difficult to access, plus it’s in really steep terrain. Swan says it’s not safe for their crews to go in and fight the blaze. So they’re letting it burn and keeping an eye on it.

None of the wildfires burning in the Kamloops Fire Centre are interface fires. No buildings or infrastructure is threatened.

The long weekend’s hero was the rain that came with the thunderstorms.

“The higher relative humidity, the mugginess you can feel in the heat… has really helped,” Swan said. It’s kept the flames from spreading quickly and kept the fires small.

And that gave B.C. Wildfire crews time to get in and put out the blazes.

“Crews were bouncing from fire to fire.”

People out enjoying the great outdoors were well behaved when it came to the campfire ban.

“Our fire wardens are reporting good compliance with the ban,” Swan said. “People were using the things that are allowed, like those portable propane campfires or cooking with briquettes.”

She won’t know how many fines were handed out for illegal campfires until Monday. The campfire ban does remain in effect.

And Swan points out it’s no time to get complacent.

The warm, dry weather on Monday has dried out the wildfire fuels. Fire danger ratings have rebounded according to Swan. The south and central Okanagan have a moderate danger rating, while from Vernon to Kamloops, the danger is in the high range.

So far this year in the Kamloops Fire Centre there have been 222 forest fires. That’s below the 10-year average of 327.

To contact the reporter for this story, email halexander@infotelnews.ca or call 250-491-0331.

There were 614 lightning strikes in around Kamloops during the thunderstorms.
There were 614 lightning strikes in around Kamloops during the thunderstorms.
Image Credit: Environment Canada

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