Almost 200 fewer wildfires so far in 2024 compared to last year: BC Wildfire Service

This time last year, Metro Vancouver was under an air quality advisory as wildfire smoke drifted into the region.

This year, not only are the skies clear from wildfire smoke, but the province has seen nearly 200 fewer wildfire starts compared to 2023’s record-breaking season, says Emilie Peacock with the BC Wildfire Service.

Peacock says between April 1 and June 8, the province had 201 wildfire starts compared to 393 starts over the same period last year.

“It was very busy in the spring last year. And it was also very dry, there was very little precipitation received, as well. Last year, the Donnie Creek wildfire started in May, which ended up being the largest wildfire in B.C.’s recorded history. So, needless to say, a very busy spring,” she told CityNews.

Year-to-year, Peacock explains that conditions on the land can vary greatly, so spring wildfire starts don’t generally indicate the expected severity for the summer months.

“It’s always good to be prepared. We are in an ongoing drought throughout most of the province,” she explained.

She’s urging caution as we transition into the hot summer months, and notes we are seeing a lot more fire behaviour historically.

“[In] spring fire season, we see a lot of human-caused starts, and then as we transition into summer months, a lot of lightning and natural fires start to happen,” Peacock said.

While the South Coast saw some heavy rain before the weekend’s warm weather, Peacock explains that “a little bit of rain here and there doesn’t really saturate into the deeper forest floor layers.”

“What we really do need to see is sustained rains throughout the rainier months of the year, May and June. And while we are seeing some rain, there are some really dry portions of the province.”

The service says while campfires are allowed across B.C., it stresses the importance of practising fire safety, like having a shovel and eight litres of water on hand when it’s time to put it out.

“There is a lot that people can do so they can safely recreate in the backcountry or when they’re outdoors,” Peacock explained, adding, that everyone can be prepared.

“They can make sure they have their grab and go back and know where to get emergency information should they need it. … Mae sure that you have everything you need for your family including your pets, and there’s also a lot that homeowners can do around their homes to be fire smart, as well.”

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