The Siphon Creek wildfire on May 1

Slow B.C. forest fire season may heat up

Campfire ban imposed for Coastal region as a quiet 2016 forest fire season sees hot and dry conditions

The B.C. Wildfire Service calls them “wildfires of note,” the largest, most aggressive or threatening to homes and businesses.

Weeks have gone by this summer with the “wildfires of note” list left blank, as an early outburst of northern B.C. fires has given way to one of the quietest forest fire seasons in recent memory.

But with a string of hot, dry days in mid-August after a cooler, wetter early summer, the B.C. Wildfire Service is attempting to keep things quiet. A campfire ban takes effect for the Coastal fire region on Wednesday, the first of the summer.

The Coastal fire ban includes campfires, open fires, tiki torches, fireworks and burning barrels. It covers the entire Coastal region except Haida Gwaii and the “fog zone” on the west coast of Vancouver Island.

As of Aug. 15, the B.C. Wildfire Service has recorded 846 fires with a total of 975 square km burned. The Prince George fire region accounts for more than 910 of that total, with another 50 square km burned in the Northwest region and the Cariboo region a distant third with eight.

So far the Coastal region has lost only 1.16 square km to wildfire, with 2.64 square km burned in the Kamloops fire region and 3.35 in the Southeast.

With the current forest fire season more than half over, the area burned is one third of that burned in 2015, which finished the season with 1,858 total fires.

Despite predictions that climate change is making each forest fire season worse than the last, recent statistics show that is not the case. B.C. recorded low fire seasons in 2007, 2008 and in 2011, where the season finished with only 126 square km burned and $54.5 million spent fighting fires.

Last year the province spent more than $200 million on firefighting, and nearly $300 million in 2014. The cost of each season depends on how many communities are threatened more than the size and frequency of forest fires.

Much of the Prince George area burned this year is accounted for by a cluster of fires that sprang up in April around Fort. St. John. After snow melted quickly and left large areas of dry dead grass on farmlands and road allowances, a string of unusually early fires sparked an arson investigation.

The largest of those, the Beatton Airport Road fire, reached 100 square km before being contained. The nearby Siphon Creek wildfire spread into northern Alberta, near where crews were struggling to save the town of Fort McMurray from another aggressive early spring fire.

 

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

The RCMP helicopter. (File photo)
Suspect escapes after police pursuit through Surrey, Langley, Abbotsford

Police chase involved two stolen vehicles, including one taken in Mission

The 2020 Rotary Club of Chilliwack Book Sale is moving from Chilliwack Mall to Heritage Park to allow more room for physically-distanced shopping. (Jenna Hauck/ The Progress)
Rotary Book Sale moves from Chilliwack Mall to Heritage Park

The hugely-popular book sale is going ahead Oct. 25-31 with pandemic protocols in place

Organizers of the Fraser Valley Bald Eagle Festival have decided to end the event after more than 20 years. / Bob Friesen File Photo
Fraser Valley Bald Eagle Festival cancelled – for good

Organizers say the event was so popular that too many people were attending to be sustainable

There are five general voting locations, and two advanced voting locations for the Abbotsford-Missing riding in the district. There are three general voting locations and one advanced-voting location for the Maple Ridge-Mission riding in the District. Elections BC map.
Where to vote in the District of Mission

All locations to vote in the District for the 2020 B.C. election

/ Kevin Mills Photos
PHOTOS: Movie crew transforms downtown Mission

The holidays came erly this year as the movie Cross Country Christmas was filmed downtown

With local MLA Adam Olsen looking on, BC Greens leader Sonia Furstenau said a Green government would convert BC Ferries into a Crown corporation Wolf Depner/News Staff)
Green leader Sonia Furstenau promises to convert BC Ferries back into Crown corporation

Promise comes Monday afternoon with five days left in campaign

IIO Chief Civilian Director Ron MacDonald. (File photo: Tom Zytaruk)
Police watchdog concludes Mounties didn’t shoot Surrey teen at strip mall

IIO finds tragic death of teenager ‘not the result of any actions or inactions’ by the Surrey RCMP

A passer-by walks past a COVID-19 testing clinic in Montreal, Friday, Oct. 16, 2020. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Ryan Remiorz
Canada ‘yet to see’ deaths due to recent COVID surge as cases hit 200,000

Much of the increase in case numbers can be attributed to Ontario and Quebec

Police confirm human remains were found in a recycling bin in Vancouver on Oct. 18, 2020. (Black Press Media file photo)
Human remains found in recycling bin floating near Vancouver beach

Police asking nearby residents to see if their recycling bin has gone missing

Emergency crews shut down White Rock’s Five Corners district on Feb. 19, 2020 after an altercation left an elderly man in critical condition. (File photo)
Trial dates set in White Rock manslaughter case

Proceedings against Ross Banner, 71, set for June 2021 in Surrey Provincial Court

The many faces of Daon Glasgow. (Photos: Surrey RCMP)
Glasgow found not guilty of trying to murder transit cop in Surrey

Transit Police Constable Josh Harms was shot Jan. 30, 2019 at Scott Road SkyTrain Station

B.C. Liberal leader Andrew Wilkinson visits a North Vancouver daycare to announce his party’s election promises for child care, Oct. 9, 2020. (B.C. Liberal Party video)
B.C. parties pitch costly child care programs in pandemic

B.C. Liberals say they’ll deliver on NDP’s $10-a-day promise for lower-income families

A B.C. man decided to create a website to help people find family doctors accepting patients. Because Victoria is considered high-demand, clinic openings can’t be posted publicly. (Unsplash)
Vancouver Island man starts website that connects B.C. residents with doctors

Nanaimo man started project to help people find family physicians accepting patients

Most Read