B.C. wildfire fighters brace for new, increased activity

A province-wide campfire ban will come into effect on Friday. As Monika Gul reports, the prohibition comes as B.C. braces for increased wildfire activity.

The BC Wildfire Service says the recent hot and dry weather, combined with years of drought, has increased the wildfire risk across the province.

With a cold front forecast to bring strong winds, thunderstorms, and the potential for dry lightning, it’s expecting new fire starts across the province, especially in northern regions.

“We are seeing some starts already because that cold front did start to pull into the province yesterday afternoon and overnight. So we currently have 131 active wildfires in the province, 63 of which were started in the last 24 hours,” said Sarah Budd, provincial information officer, BC Wildfire Service, who adds increased activity for already-burning fires is also expected.

On Tuesday, the BC Wildfire Service announced a province-wide campfire ban would take effect Friday at noon. It’s a decision the service says it doesn’t take lightly.

“We are on our seventh day of consecutive drying and we are seeing some extreme weather events impacting us, so the decision was made that the risk is too high and they did implement a full campfire prohibition for the entire province, except for the Haida Gwaii forest district,” Budd explained.

The BC Wildfire Service says this year did see an early start to the wildfire season, including a major wildfire near Fort Nelson in May. But rain in June helped temper the wildfire risk until now.

“With consecutive drying days, and we are going on sort of twp years of prolonged drought in B.C., it is pretty quick for those conditions to flip around and our fuels do become quite quickly susceptible to fire again. And the heat that we’re seeing right now is extreme.”

The BC Wildfire Service says cool weather and lots of rain over many days is what’s needed to bring down the wildfire risk. But that’s not currently in the forecast.

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