VANCOUVER ISLAND, B.C. – The fire danger rating in some parts of B.C. has jumped from moderate to high, including in the Coastal Fire Centre.
This is due to a heat wave that has swept across the southern half of the province this week, and it’s expected to to get even warmer as we move into the weekend.
A moderate rating means forest fuels are drying and there is an increased risk of surface fires starting, and that people should carry out any forest activities with caution.
A high rating means forest fuels are very dry and the fire risk is serious. New fires may start easily, burn vigorously, and challenge fire suppression efforts. Extreme caution must be used in any forest activities. Open burning and industrial activities may be restricted.
“Right now, we’re moving into high in most areas,” Coastal Fire Centre information officer Marg Drysdale said. “We did have a conversation with our fire weather tech this morning and he’s letting us know that we are 10 degrees above average, and so it is hot and dry out there.”
Fire Danger Map, courtesy of BC Wildfire
Drysdale said the region has had 17 wildfires since April 1st, and all of them have been human caused.
She added that the conversation around a Category 2 open fire prohibition in the region “is continuing.”
A Category 2 is an open fire, excluding a campfire, that burns piled material no larger than two metres high and three metres wide, or grass over an area less 2000 square metres in size.
This kind of prohibition would affect people doing any form of backyard burning and using burn barrels.
“They are larger than a campfire, but they are not like an industrial burn,” Drysdale said. “So there are piles in your backyard, that would be considered a Category 2.”
“There will be a meeting on Monday to be looking at it very strongly,” she added.
Relief is in sight in the form of possible rain showers, sometime next week.
But in the short term, Drysdale urges people to take extra caution this weekend.
“We really want people to understand that their behaviour affects whether a Category 2 or any kind of prohibition goes into place,” she noted.
Drysdale said that, because it’s early in the season, people aren’t as careful as they should be.
“So they’re thinking, ‘Well, it’s only May, I’m going to have a campfire, conditions can’t be that dry.’ We’re looking at extremely dry conditions right now, so we want people to be very aware, if they light anything, they are responsible for it,” she said.