Summer forest fire prognosis still uncertain

Vegetation growth accelerated by the wet conditions could turn into bountiful forest fire fuel

The moisture on the ground and in the air this spring could be a precursor to a difficult forest fire campaign this summer.

Justine Hunse, with the B.C. Wildlife Service, said the vegetation growth accelerated by the wet conditions could turn into bountiful forest fire fuel when the expectant Okanagan summer heat wave takes hold traditionally in July, August and sometimes into September.

“The grass levels are something we monitor and we also gather data from the 200 weather monitoring stations across the province, but at this time of the year it’s difficult for us to predict what the severity of the upcoming fire season will be,” said Hunse.

“Once the typical June rains subside towards the end of the month, we’ll have a better idea about what the intensity of the fire season might look like.”

Currently, Hunse said within the Kamloops Fire Zone, which includes the Okanagan, there have been 54 forest fires, three which remain active, and 54 hectares burned.

That is down from last year at this time, where 57 fires had occurred burning up 201 hectares.

On Tuesday crews from the B.C. Wildfire Service responded to a fire off of Westside Road near Blue Grouse mountain, which as of Tuesday afternoon was 2.5 hectares in size.

Check kelownacapnews.com for updates to the fire.

“It’s significantly lower for forest fires at this point in the season and the rain is a factor in that,” Hunse said, noting that traditionally it only takes a short string of hot, dry summer days for those ground fuels to dry out.

Campfires are still permitted at this point while all other category 2 or 3 open burning will be prohibited as of noon Thursday.