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Fire season heading for a scorcher

The Mt. McAllister fire near Hudson Hope. - photo contributed
The Mt. McAllister fire near Hudson Hope.
— image credit: photo contributed

By Jeff Nagel,
Black Press

Wildfires in B.C. have already burned up more forest than has usually been lost in recent years, with many weeks of hot, smoky action still expected for firefighting crews.

Fires have burned 172,227 hectares since April 1 – more than the average of 141,000 hectares burned over the previous 10 years.

“It has been quite busy,” fire information officer Navi Saini said Tuesday. “The danger ratings we saw for the last two weeks were the highest we’d seen  since about 2010, which was the last busy fire season.”

In 2010, B.C. lost 337,149 hectares and spent $212 million fighting 1,673 fires. Evacuation orders were issued for several areas that year.

There have been 652 fires so far this year and 128 of them were considered active as of Tuesday.

The provincial government has so far spent an estimated $80.7 million and more than nine times as much area has already been burned as the 18,259 hectares all of last year.

About 60 per cent of the fires so far have been caused by people – a high proportion – but Saini said that’s typical early in the season, because lightning-sparked fires tend to pick up later in the summer.

Cooler weather and rain this week is helping ease the wildfire risk in much of the province, but Saini said a high pressure ridge is expected to rebuild by the weekend, bringing a return to warm, dry conditions.

Thousands of residents were ordered evacuated due to wildfires earlier this month near West Kelowna and Hudson’s Hope, where BC Hydro dams that generate much of B.C.’s power were also evacuated but continued to operate.

 

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