Fire season smooth running so far

The East Kootenay has fared well this summer, but dry conditions could still lead to a campfire ban

It’s been a slow burning season on the forest fire front in the Southeast Fire Centre region and in Cranbrook as well.

“So far this season, we’ve had about 80 fires,” Karlie Shaughnessy, fire information officer for the Castlegar-based fire centre, said. “Those have burned about 285 hectares. Of those 49 were lightning caused and the rest person caused.”

Shaughnessy said the fire average for this time of year is 133 fires.

“Cranbrook hasn’t had any significant fires this year,” she noted.

Shaughnessy said the fire danger rating is varied throughout the Southeast region between moderate to extreme, and around Cranbrook the rating is at moderate to high.

The fire centre is forecasting an unsettled weather outlook with a mix of sun and cloud and a chance of afternoon thunderstorms, and will decide on a campfire ban in the near future.

“Right now fire officials are considering putting a campfire ban in,” she said.

“They are watching the weather really closely to see if it hits that region where we need to put a campfire ban in,” said Shaughnessy.

She said it depends on the amount of precipitation that comes out of the thunderstorms in the next few days, and added that if the ban comes in, it would probably be next week at the earliest.

“We’re just hoping we see a little bit of rain with these storms that come through.”

There are open fire prohibitions on every type of fire, which limits the only type of fire to a campfire less than a half metre high and half metre wide. Items like fireworks are also banned.

She noted that last year a full campfire ban never came into effect.

She also mentioned that there have been a large number of abandoned campfires and incidents throughout the area.

“We’ve had 129 campfire incidents this year, and last year we only had 100. So it’s slightly above average,” she said.

The incidents mostly consisted of campfires left on Crown land.

For more information on the fire conditions go to www.bcwildfire.ca.