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Quiet wildfire season clearing the air

It’s all clear on Vancouver Island and the Sunshine Coast.

You can thank a cloudier and damper-than-usual summer for that.

Around this time last year, a smoky haze lingered over the island and the coast, with the worst wildfire season in B.C. history in full effect.

That prompted Environment Canada issued a special air quality statement for Campbell River, Comox Valley, Duncan, and Nanaimo/Parksville.

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Not so this year. 

Across the island and coast, the air quality index sits at two, or low risk.

The reason is a huge drop in both wildfire activity and hectares burned compared to the summer of 2018.

Since April 1st, there have been 128 wildfires in the region. 

As of August 20th last year, that number sat at 265.

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The most telling stat is hectares burned. 

To date, 318 hectares of coastal forest has burned which is well below the 10-year average of 11,747 hectares.

At this time last year, wildfires had ripped through 73,000 hectares in the coastal region alone.

Information officer Dorthe Jakobsen gives Mother Nature full credit for an extremely quiet wildfire season, thus far.

“At the beginning of the (wildfire) season we have a look and we try and predict long-range forecast but they are notoriously unreliable,” she said. “Although we have had above average temperatures as predicted, we have had more precipitation and more cloudy days so the relative humidity have stayed really good all summer.”

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There is one new fire off of Summit Road just outside Port Alberni. It’s 3.1 hectares and burning out of control and is highly visible from Port Alberni, but no structures or infrastructures are threatened at this time.

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