B.C. is now well into its third worst wildfire season in the last 18 years | iNFOnews | Thompson-Okanagan's News Source

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B.C. is now well into its third worst wildfire season in the last 18 years

Image Credit: B.C. Wildfire
July 27, 2021 - 7:30 AM

While still a long way from the record-breaking wildfire seasons of 2017 and 2018, more forest has burned in B.C. this year than any other full year, other than those two.

As of July 25, 413,945 hectares have burned so far this year, with about 42 per cent (173,320 ha) of that being in the Kamloops fire district.

That’s more than the 348,168 hectares burned in all of 2014, and it’s still early in the season. That ranked number three in terms of land burned since at least 2003.

The 2014 number was shattered in 2017 when 1.2 million hectares burned, costing $614 million to fight.

Most of the “wildfires of note” that year started in early to mid-July with a second wave coming in August.

The major fire in the Kamloops region was the 192,000 ha Elephant Hill fire that was discovered July 6 and burned from Ashcroft to Highway 24.

A new record was set again in 2018 when 1.35 million hectares burned at a firefighting cost of $616 million. Only 55,000 hectares burned in the Kamloops fire district.

Two of the biggest were the Goode’s Creek, 21 km south of Kelowna at 1,370 ha and the 1,790 ha Mount Eneas south of Peachland. Both were discovered July 17 and caused by lightning.

In a two-week period from July 31 to Aug. 11 that year, almost 400 new fires started by lightning.

So far this year, there have been 1,192 fires with 365 of those being in the Kamloops fire district so far this year.

In 2017 there were 2,117 fires and 1,353 in 2017.

Data posted by the Ministry of Forests only goes back to 2008 but a report called Addressing the New Normal: 21st Century Disaster Management in British Columbia has data going back to 2003.

That year saw 265,053 ha burned but included the Okanagan Mountain Park. While only 25,600 ha burned, 238 homes were destroyed or damaged and trestles were burned on the Myra Canyon rail trail.

The McClure fire was that year as well, destroying 72 homes south of Barriere. It was 26,420 ha. 

To contact a reporter for this story, email Rob Munro or call 250-808-0143 or email the editor. You can also submit photos, videos or news tips to the newsroom and be entered to win a monthly prize draw.

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