With an unusually warm autumn season, for many British Columbians it may feel like there is an extra month of summer, but the lack of rainfall has extended forest fire season.
Julia Caranci, fire information officer with the Coastal Fire Centre, says that the fires have continued to pop up through to the middle of October because there has not been a season-ending rainfall event.
“By this time last year, we had several significant rain events. And those significant rain events ended the fire season last year,” said Caranci. “We have not seen any of those significant rain events in the south coast this year yet.”
Caranci said the Lower Mainland, Fraser Valley, Sunshine Coast, Vancouver Island, and Haida Gwaii have seen a total of 264 fires this season compared to last season’s 208.
According to the BC Wildfire Dashboard there are currently 201 active fires in the province with 11 having ignited in the last two days. Approximately 74.1 per cent of fires have been caused by lightning while 19.4 per cent have been human-caused, leaving 6.5 per cent with an unknown origin.
“This year, in particular, we had a number of lightning events that came to pass through northern Vancouver Island a couple of times,” said Caranci.
Caranci also stated that human-caused fires can be by cigarette buds, campfires, and target shooting.
“Basically, we get fires because it's dry,” said Caranci. “When it remains dry for an extended period of time, the fuels in the forests dry out and they become more receptive to fire.”
On Friday, Oct. 14, two fires ignited near the town of Port Alberni. One started on the east side of Sproat Lake, near Ash Main. It is suspected to be human-caused and is 0.60 hectares in size. The other ignited West of the Somass River’s mouth, located approximately at the Alberni Landfill. It is 0.30 hectares and is suspected to be human-caused.
On Thursday, Oct. 13, a fire ignited in the town of Port Alberni, located along Rogers Creek. It is suspected to be human-caused, 0.10 hectares in size, and is currently under control.
South of Port Alberni near Spur 10 #1, a fire started on Oct. 9 and is 3.45 hectares. It is suspected to be human-caused and is currently under control.
Further North four fires are currently being held in Strathcona Park, all caused by lightning.
Since Sept. 6, a fire located along Herber River has reached 352 hectares. It was caused by lightning and is currently out of control. There are currently crews on scene. Another fire, ignited on Sept. 1 from lightning near Oktwanch River, is 41 hectares in size, currently out of control and is being monitored, according to the Wildfire Management Branch. Both fires are near Gold River.
Two more fires are located along the Nimpkish River and east of Woss Lake. Both are currently being held.
Alexandra Mehl, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, Ha-Shilth-Sa