Dry weather raises Fire Danger Rating

Erin Haluschak

Record Staff

The stretch of hot, dry July weather has raised the Fire Danger Rating to high, with a campfire restriction now in effect for the Comox Valley, according to information from The Coastal Fire Centre.

Donna MacPherson, fire information officer for the centre, said the rating takes into consideration the number of days without rain, how high the temperature rises, wind conditions and humidity.

“It’s a numerical figure which really looks at how easy it is for fire to consume fuel and how hard it is to put it out once it gets going,” she explained.

The centre also looks at the Fire Fuel Ignition, which is how easy it is for a fire to start.

“When it’s extremely dry, it’s easy for a fire to start from anything from an ATV going through grasses or a spark from a cigarette. (The Fire Fuel Ignition and Fire Danger Rating) are the two markers we are closely looking at,” she added.

Currently, there are no active wildfires in the area, but MacPherson said if anyone is considering camping this weekend, to visit for up-to-date campfire bans and also to check with local municipalities.

MacPherson noted the considerable spike in temperatures this month is abnormal, particularly following “a long slow start to the fire season.

“We had a regular pattern of rain, dry weather, rain, dry weather. It didn’t stress the forest.

“Now it is extremely hot for coastal sections … with the hot air being pumped up from the States. It’s starting to moderate, with pulses of low pressure on Thursday and increased winds, which is a return of normal summer patterns.”

She added although the latter part of the week is showing a reduction in record-breaking temperatures and a possibility of precipitation, the air is so dry “it could suck a fair amount of moisture before it hits the ground.”

With possible winds picking up later in the week and during the weekend, MacPherson said that factor could set off any possible decrease in temperatures.

“It’s sort of like what happens when you blow on a campfire,” she added.

With no solid precipitation in the forecast, the return to normal summer weather is not enough to lower the danger rating.

“There is just not enough water to rehydrate the trees to make them juicy,” she added.


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