Cooler temps across B.C. this summer mean much calmer fire season so far

Wayne Moore - Castanet

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It would appear cooler temperatures across the province this summer are responsible for the slower pace to this year’s wildfire season.

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It’s been a much calmer fire season this year, and the weather is mostly the reason. BC Wildfire Service/Facebook

Figures for the first four months of the provincial fire season (April 1 to July 31) show fire activity province-wide is down sharply over what was experienced a year ago.

To date, only 581 fires have been reported in B.C. compared with 1,250 over the same four months of 2018.

The reason can be linked directly to weather. Only 243 fires have been started by lightning compared with 762 a year ago.

This despite the fact the number of electrical storms is actually higher than normal.

“It’s one of our highest lightning counts in the last 10 years, but most of our lightning has been accompanied by rainfall,” said Environment Canada meteorologist Matt MacDonald.

“We haven’t had many of these dry lightning events, and that’s really, I think, been the saving grace.”

The cause of 150 other fires in 2018 remains undetermined.

However, human-caused fires remain constant. So far this year, 336 fires have been human caused, just two fewer than a year ago.

Figures for the Kamloops Fire Centre, which includes the Okanagan, show similar results.

Over the first four months this year, 112 fires have burned in the region, compared with 252 a year ago. Only about 25 have been human caused.

The Okanagan has also been spared so far this year.

At this time last year, the Okanagan was in the grips of several major fires, including the Mount Eneas Wildfire south of Peachland.

Several fires were burning in the Peachland area, as well as a large fire in Okanagan Mountain Park, plus fires in the South, and North Okanagan.

The cost of fighting fires is also just a fraction of what it was a year ago.

The province spent an estimated $143 million ($16.5 million in the Kamloops region) fighting fires over the first four months a year ago.

This year, that figure has dropped dramatically to an estimated $85 million ($3.5 million in the Kamloops region) this year.