Busy fire season rolls on

397 fires this year to date; crews and contractors doing great job keeping them contained at initial attack phase

A combination of excellent work by BC Forest Service crews and contractors, and maybe a little luck, is seeing this region through a very busy fire season.

Fanny Bernard from the Southeast Fire Centre says that considering the amount of lightning this summer, it’s quite remarkable that there haven’t been more fires of note.

“We’ve been quite busy since the beginning of summer. In the Southeast Fire Centre, last year at this time we’d had 217 fires. This year, we’ve had 397, with 63 of those human-caused,” Bernard said. “It’s been an exceptional year, with a phenomenal amount of lightning.

“The real story is how few of these lighting caused fires have grown past the initial attack phase. There’s been some really good work from crews and contractors. They have done an excellent job.”

In the past 24 hours, Bernard says there have been three new fires in the region, one caused by humans.

“Conditions are still dry and we have a solid six weeks of summer to go.”

The closest fires to Kimberley/Cranbrook are those burning in the St. Mary Alpine area. There are actually five fires in that area, all receiving a moderate response.

“That means they are being monitored but allowed to burn within pre-determined parameters. If they don’t grow significantly, we will continue to monitor, although one of them is going to have 15 personnel and an excavator put on it.

“When it was cooler and wetter a week ago these fires dropped off, but then with warmer and dryer weather, they pop up again.”

Bernard said that allowing a fire to burn when it doesn’t threaten people or structures can help provide better habitat for wildlife.

Much of the smoke in the valley now is also coming from fires further west and south, she said.

“We have been getting a lot of calls about smoke and we thank the public for reporting,” she said.

For more information on the fire bans and real-time updates, visit the BC Wildfire website at www.bcwildfire.ca or search for ‘BC Forest Fire Info’ on Facebook.

To report a wildfire or open burning violation, call 1-800-663-5555 or *5555 on a cellphone.