Shovel Lake Wildfire (supplied by BC Wildfire Service)
So far, so good on the wildfire front this summer.
At this time last year, 158 forest fires had scorched through 146,721 hectares in the Coastal Fire Centre region.
So far this year, 113 fires have burned 311 hectares.
Information officer Jeanne Larsen said Mother Nature has helped put a damper on the fire season.
“Most of the difference is attributable to the precipitation that we’re getting on a regular basis through the summer,” she said.
“We’re not having our June rains, and then somebody’s turning off the tap and we’re going for two months with no precipitation. We’re getting a few days of warm weather, then we’ll have some precipitation, more warm weather… it’s kind of a regular cycle.”
As a result, forest fuels don’t get a chance to dry out completely and act as kindling for potential wildfires, as they did over the past two years.
“That keeps it from being such a volatile situation,” Larsen said.
“Having said that, we are finding not many nuisance fires, abandoned campfires, those types of things as well this year. Part of that is attributable to fewer people out in the bush because it’s wetter, it’s not quite as nice weather, and people are far more aware of what can happen.”
On a larger scale, BC Wildfire said it’s been a very quiet spring and summer, thus far.
The number of wildfires is well below normal, with 585 fires burning 12,661 hectares.
The area that has burned is only 10 percent of B.C.’s 10-year average.
About 42 percent of the fire starts have been linked to lightning, followed by human-related causes at 36 percent.
Meanwhile, two fires broke out in the Coastal Fire Centre region this week.
The first was at Sakinaw Lake roughly 45 kilometres northwest of Sechelt.
It started Monday afternoon and has grown to 3.8 hectares.
BC Wildfire tweeted that 16 personnel, two water tenders, and two helicopters are onsite.
No structures are threatened.
Further north, a lightning strike caused a small fire to break out in a remote area near McGregor Lake on Tuesday.
The fire is a half a hectare and is under control.
McGregor Lake is on the north coast, just north of Port Hardy across the Queen Charlotte Strait.
Fuel conditions are near normal throughout much of B.C., thanks to the rain that fell during the latter half of June and in July.
Many weather stations recorded data that indicated July was wetter than normal.
But drought levels in the western half of the province are still “dry” to “very dry”.
Two areas of concern are indicated on the BC Wildfire Map.
The July rainfall missed the northwest corner of the province, so fuels in that area are extremely dry.
The south-central area of the province is continuing to dry out after some July rainfall.
Weather patterns in this area in August are typically hot and dry, with lightning a frequent occurrence. As fuels dry out and grasses cure, fire risk will increase in this area.
Current suppression tactics are holding most wildfires to a small size, BC Wildfire says in its August outlook.
“As we progress further into the typically warmest and driest part of the year, suppression efforts may be challenged by an increase in the number of dry fuels and the potential for a high number of lightning-caused wildfires,” it adds.