Worst may almost be over for 2018 B.C. wildfire season

Worst may almost be over for 2018 B.C. wildfire season

BC Wildfire Service officials say cool, wet weather is ahead, though not for everywhere

The worst of the B.C. wildfire season may be over.

According to chief fire information office Kevin Skrepnek, there is a lot less fire activity occurring in the province, temperatures are cooling, and the risk of dry lighting is tapering off.

“We are heading into a fairly cool, wet pattern. It’s probably safe to say the worst is over,” Skrepnek said. “But, there are definitely some areas of the province that are still very much under threat. It is also not uncommon to see a relatively warm September as well.”

A record number of hectares have burned this fire season at an estimated 1,252,000 hectares, the previous record being in 2017 at 1,216,000 hectares.

“That jump in number wasn’t due to a dramatic increase in fire activity or anything like that,” he said. “It was just based on better mapping, as we were contending with such a thick cloud of smoke over the province. So, getting an accurate number on these fires had been quite challenging.”

RELATED: 2018 now B.C.’s worst wildfire season on record

Skrepnek cautioned that while 2018 does hold the record for hectares burned, it doesn’t correlate to impact on people and property.

“Looking at 2003 and last year just to name a few, definitely the overall impact of those years to property, values and timber values was quite a bit higher than this year.”

RELATED: 2017 wildfire season will go down as “unprecedented”

The total cost to date for the BC Wildfire Service for strictly fire suppression is $360 million.

“Looking at the last five years, at money spent in terms of this date, this would be the second most spent with the first being last year,” said Skrepnek. “For comparison sake, as of this date in 2017, our estimated cost we are sitting at a little over $442 million.”

Fire crews are making good progress on the blazes raging in the province:

  • 512 fires burning throughout the province
  • 5 new fire starts on Aug. 30
  • Since April 1, BC Wildfire has responded to 2,015 fires
  • More than 4,500 personnel fighting fires, including 850 out-of-province personnel, including 51 firefighters from Washington state
  • More than 1,400 contractors from the B.C. forestry industry assisting
  • 230 aircrafts flying in support of ground crews
  • 770 RCMP members or civilian members deployed in support of B.C. wildfires, including Alberta RCMP tactical officers

According to Jessica Post with Emergency Management BC, the agency is maintaining a “response posture” with an eye on the recovery process.

Currently in B.C. there are:

  • 31 evacuation orders affecting 1,551 properties
  • 54 evacuation alerts affecting 10,475 properties
  • 4 regional operation centres active – Nelson, Prince George, Kamloops and Terrace, plus the provincial operation centre in Victoria
  • 19 emergency social service reception centres
  • Some First Nations communities have offered support to evacuees

Heading into the Labour Day long weekend, there is a shift in the weather pattern for the entire province.

High summer temperatures are no longer expected, and based on information provided to BC Wildfire, those summer-like conditions are not likely to return.

The cool weather is likely to persist over the weekend with temperatures dipping to unseasonably cool in some areas.

A low-pressure system moving across most of the province on Saturday will bring widespread rain, but there are still areas that may not see any precipitation.

“Unfortunately, in the central part of the province, those corridors from Smithers to Prince George, where we’ve got a lot of these major fires burning, that is one of the areas in the rain shadow and has not seen much precipitation,” Skrepnek said.

Crews in the north are expecting a challenging day on Friday, with forecasted winds that could increase fire behaviour.

“We do still have a campfire ban in place for most of the province, with the exception of the fog zone on the west coast of Vancouver Island and for some parts of northeast B.C. where they have seen considerable amount of rain.”

Area restrictions remain in affect in regions where wildfires continue to burn. The BC Wildfire Service is asking the public to avoid active wildfire sites.


@Jen_zee
jen.zielinski@bpdigital.ca

Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter.

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

The Comox Valley Sports Centre re-opened in the summer. Photo supplied
Comox Valley Sports Centre Commission chair commends staff efforts in challenging year

Comox Valley Sports Centre Commission chair Daniel Arbour delivered a year-end report… Continue reading

The Lamplighters wants to end its lease with the village. Photo by Mike Chouinard
Briefs: Cumberland agrees to end hall lease with Lamplighters

Council aims to add more daytime meetings in 2021 for seniors

A rendering of the proposed window covering and sign for the business planned for downtown Cumberland. Image, Village of Cumberland report
Cumberland approves location change for cannabis permit

Site next door to the one planned seen as more financially feasible

The DPAC is holding an online forum on Nov. 30 for candidates for the upcoming school district byelection. Screenshot DPAC poster
Online forum for Comox Valley school board byelection is Nov. 30

Six candidates have filed papers to fill the trustee position in Area C

The Food Share program volunteers pack supplies for food-insecure families. Screenshot, CCSS website
Cumberland council OK’s money for food program

Community school group asks to use unused money to help families

Kyle Charles poses for a photo in Edmonton on Friday, Nov. 20, 2020. Marvel Entertainment, the biggest comic book publisher in the world, hired the 34-year-old First Nations illustrator as one of the artists involved in Marvel Voice: Indigenous Voices #1 in August. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jason Franson
VIDEO: Indigenous illustrator of new Marvel comic hopes Aboriginal women feel inspired

Kyle Charles says Indigenous women around the world have reached out

Cannabis bought in British Columbia (Ashley Wadhwani/Black Press Media)
Is it time to start thinking about greener ways to package cannabis?

Packaging suppliers are still figuring eco-friendly and affordable packaging options that fit the mandates of Cannabis Regulations

Join Black Press Media and Do Some Good
Join Black Press Media and Do Some Good

Pay it Forward program supports local businesses in their community giving

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau speak to the media about the COVID-19 virus outside Rideau Cottage in Ottawa, Friday, Nov. 20, 2020. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Adrian Wyld
Long-awaited federal rent subsidy program for businesses hurt by COVID-19 opens today

The new program will cover up to 65 per cent of rent or commercial mortgage interest

An Oceana Canada audit of Canadian fish stocks reveals a growing number with critical populations, calling on Fisheries and Oceans Canada to enact existing commitments. (File photo)
B.C.’s declining fisheries the result of poor DFO management: audit

Oceana Canada calls for follow through on government commitments

Randy Bell. (File photo)
Former northern B.C. mayoral candidate arrested after allegedly refusing to wear mask

Randy Bell handcuffed and given a warning at Bulkley Valley Credit Union in Smithers

Most Read