Rain in May and June will be key to bring down late-summer wildfire risk: official

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VICTORIA — A British Columbia wildfire expert says a persistent winter drought in some parts of the province means spring rain may dictate this year's wildfire season.

Cliff Chapman, the director of provincial operations for the B.C. Wildfire Service, says the rain in May and June will set the tone for wildfires in July, August and September.

While it's been a relatively average spring so far, he says long-term forecasts indicate parts of B.C. "may not see enough precipitation to knock down the hazard."

Chapman says wildfire service crews have been working around the clock to tackle55 fires that are currently burning, and they're ready for what's to come.

He told a news conference on Thursday that 131 fires have been recorded in B.C. since January, a little higher than the 10-year average, but the burned area is less than half the average.

Chapman acknowledged that it probably hasn't felt like an average spring for people living in communities where fires have been sparked in recent days.

There is currently one wildfire of note burning in the province, meaning it's highly visible or poses a potential threat to public safety.

The 60-hectare fire is burning out of control near Charlie Lake Provincial Park, northwest of Fort St. John.

This report by The Canadian Press was first published May 4, 2023.

The Canadian Press