B.C. Wildfire service urges caution when outdoors this long weekend - InfoNews

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B.C. Wildfire service urges caution when outdoors this long weekend

FILE PHOTO - A helicopter snorkles water during the Testalinden Creek fire near Oliver in August 2015. The B.C. WIldfire Service is cautioning residents and visitors to use caution when outdoors during the August long weekend as temperatures warm up in the Thompson-Okanagan.
July 27, 2016 - 1:00 PM

THOMPSON-OKANAGAN - With the approach of the August long weekend, the B.C. Wildfire Service is cautioning residents and visitors not to get too complacent when it comes to outdoor fire safety in the Thompson-Okanagan.

Fire information officer Max Birkner says the current fire rating is low to moderate but the forest is drying out with the current warm temperatures being experienced in the region.

Birkner says the Kamloops Fire Centre — which covers the region from Blue River in the north to the U.S. border in the south and from Bridge River in the west to Monashee Mountains in the east including Kamloops, Vernon, Kelowna and Vernon — has experienced 100 fires so far this season, compared to 304 fires by July 27 last year.

By this time last year 4,871 hectares had burned. This year only to 245 hectares so far.

“We’ve definitely had a slower than normal period over the last five weeks but we don’t want people getting complacent simply because we have had a relatively quiet period over the last few weeks,” chief fire information officer Kevin Skrepnek says.

Skrepnek says with the forecast calling for continuing warm temperatures and perhaps some wind, people heading into the outdoors on the long weekend need to be aware of the potential for wildfire.

The Kamloops Fire Centre has not implemented a campfire ban yet, but he says people need to remember to keep their campfires small, no more than one half by one half metre in size, and under observation as long as it burns. He says local jurisdictions may have their own fire bans in place.

Skrepnek also reminds off-roaders to be cautious of their use of motorized vehicles while in the back country this weekend.

He says Environment Canada originally called for a warmer than normal summer.

“We’re keeping that long term forecast in mind,” he says. “We’ve had seasons in the past that have been fairly slow up to this point, then have taken off once we’ve gotten into August. There is still a lot of fire season potential ahead of us.”

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