Wet summer dampens wildfire risks

The Burns Lake region has so far been spared a hectic wildfire season this year, owing mainly to a cooler and wetter summer compared to 2018.

That outcome didn’t seem likely back in May, when a fire east of Fraser Lake appeared to signal an early start to the fire season.

The May 11 fire grew to around 260 hectares and an evacuation order was eventually imposed.

LOOK BACK: Fire breaks out near Fraser Lake

LOOK BACK: Evacuation ordered amid Fraser Lake fire

The warm and dry weather of late June, as well as low streamflows and drought conditions in parts of the Northwest Fire Centre (NWFC) put the BC Wildfire Service on alert for fire risks.

RELATED: Northwest Fire Centre aware of drought conditions

But anxieties over a repeat of the catastrophic fires of last summer faded as more rain fell in the region.

“This year’s [weather] is much closer to the average. That’s the main reason there’s been fewer fires,” as Doug Lundquist, Meteorologist with Environment Canada told Lakes District News.

In July, 72 millimetres of rain fell in the Burns Lake region, up from the average of 43 mm, Lundquist said.

It was even wetter down the highway in the Smithers area, where the number of rainy days outnumbered dry ones, making it almost record-breaking July, as a climatologist with Environment Canada told Black Press Media.

READ MORE: July 2019 for Smithers “almost record breaking” says climatologist

Temperatures for Burns Lake in July of 2018 were comparable to this year, but there was only 37 mm of rainfall last year.

“Last year the whole province was very hot and dry [during the summer].”

The official number of fires also shows just how different this year has been compared to 2018.

From April 1 to Aug. 23, there have been 94 wildfires in the NWFC, and 8,579 hectares burned, according to Carolyn Bartos, Fire Information Officer with the NWFC.

For the same dates in 2018, there were 143 fires and 842,768 hectares burned, representing about 35 per cent less fires this year that broke out this year.

With fewer fires to fight this season in the Burns Lake area, local fire crews were sent elsewhere, such as to Bell II where the Mehan Lake fire was blazing, and to the Atlin area where the Tagish Lake fire was burning.

However, last year personnel from outside the region, and even outside the country were brought in to help with the wildfires, as Bartos explained.

“The Northwest Fire Centre had not only our crews working on the fires here, but had resources from across Canada and international support. Almost 700 out of province personnel were helping fight fires across the province. There were three fire complex’s operating in the NWFC, one in the Cassiar, one in the Bulkley and one in the Nadina, that saw nine Incident Management Team deployments; in addition to the Yukon managing the Lutz Creek fire near Lower Post.”

Weather data for August was not yet compiled as of press time, but an example of just how cool the summer has been in northern B.C. came on Aug. 21, when the NWFC said in a news release that “the Arctic cold front currently moving through the Northwest Fire Centre has brought cooler temperatures and rain to most of the region.”

As a result, the NWFC said its firefighters would demobilize firefighting equipment and large-scale sprinklers in associated with fires in the Cassiar Fire Zone, which runs from Stewart and north to the Yukon border.

In summarizing the weather differences between 2018 and 2019, Bartos said that last year dry lightning storms often struck when the fuels were dry, while this year the lightning came with rain, Bartos said.

“Moving into the latter part of the fire season, the NWFC anticipates a warming trend in the weather, however precipitation is still in the long term forecast.”


Blair McBride
Multimedia reporter
Send Blair an email
Like Lakes District News on Facebook

Just Posted

Village might earn $384,000 in camp deal

The Village of Burns Lake is set to receive hundreds of thousands… Continue reading

Helping the Burns Lake community for 13 years

In its 13 years of existence, the Burns Lake and District Community… Continue reading

TV signals restored, rebroadcast society says

Television reception for Burns Lake and Southside residents with regular TVs was… Continue reading

BC Moose Tracker app aids in management

There are smartphone apps that compile user data on restaurants, bars and… Continue reading

Nations Cannabis building up

Construction continues on the Nations Cannabis production facility, located near Decker Lake,… Continue reading

VIDEO: Drone footage documents work to free salmon at Big Bar landslide

Video shows crews working to remove rocks and wood, and transporting salmon by helicopter

Canadian inflation decelerates to 1.9% as gas prices weaken

August was the sixth straight month that price growth was 1.9 per cent or higher

Defense says burden of proof not met in double murder case against Victoria father

Closing statements begin in trial for man accused of killing daughters Christmas 2017

B.C. dog breeder banned again after 46 dogs seized

The SPCA seized the animals from Terry Baker, 66, in February 2018

Surrey mom allegedly paid $400,000 for son in U.S. college bribery scam

Xiaoning Sui, 48, was arrested in Spain on Monday night

B.C. population on pace to fall behind Alberta

Provincial population could reach almost seven million in 2043, but Alberta is growing faster

Three dogs found shot dead in Prince George ditch

The three adult dogs appeared to be well cared for before being found with gunshot wounds, BC SPCA says

B.C. party bus company to be monitored after 40 intoxicated teens found onboard

Police received tip teens and young adults were drinking on party buses and limousines in Surrey

Rick Mercer calls out Conservative candidate in B.C. for fake meme

‘Not true. All fake. Please Stop,’ tweeted Rick Mercer in response

Most Read