Since April 1, the Southeast Fire Centre has responded to a total of 15 fires, which have burned 35 hectares. All of those fires were caused by humans — not lightning. The five-year averages for this time of year are 17 fires and 112 hectares.
The southeast region has slightly higher than normal snowpack levels. These snowpack levels are helping to prevent lightning fires at high elevations at this time.
Current weather models indicate the beginning of June could be unsettled, but conditions may become drier by month’s end. More relevant indicators are drying patterns and lightning once we get closer to the summer months. It is impossible to accurately predict the severity of each forest fire season or where fires will burn.
Weather is the controlling factor in the severity and frequency of fires and cannot be reliably forecasted more than a few days in advance. Long-term weather models may give us an indication of trends over time, but forecasts tend to diminish beyond a few days. Fire weather is primarily affected by temperature, relative humidity, precipitation and wind speed.
The Southeast Fire Centre encourages everyone to be cautions when using fire.
Although clearing and burning activities at this time of year can mitigate interface wildfire risks, any open burning must be done safely. Homeowners and industry personnel are encouraged to visit the Wildfire Management Branch website at www.bcwildfire.ca/Prevention and take the following precautions:
- Ensure that enough people, water and tools are on hand to control the fire and pre-vent it from escaping.
- Do not burn during windy conditions. Weather conditions can change quickly and the wind may carry embers to other combustible material and start new fires.
- Keep the fire a reasonable distance away from any flammable materials, including all trees and wooden structures.
- Create a fireguard at least one metre around the planned fire site by clearing away twigs, grass, leaves and other combustible material.
- Never leave a fire unattended. Make sure that your fire is completely extinguished and the ashes are cold to the touch before you leave the area for any length of time.
Before conducting any burn, also check with your local fire department, municipality and regional district to see if any open burning restrictions or bylaws are in effect.
If you are planning to do any large-scale industrial burning or conduct a grass burn over 0.2 hectares (Category 3 fires), you must obtain a burn registration number ahead of time by calling 1-888-797-1717.
Always check the venting conditions before conducting an open burn. The venting index can be found online at: www.bcairquality.ca/readings/ventilation-index.html
In British Columbia, the Wildfire Act specifies a person’s legal obligations when using fire in or within one kilometre of forest land or grassland. If an outdoor burn escapes and causes a wildfire, the person responsible may be held accountable for damages and fire suppression costs.