Hot, dry weather drives up forest fire risk across B.C.
CTV British Columbia
Published Monday, July 29, 2013 6:44PM PDT
Last Updated Thursday, August 1, 2013 2:34PM PDT
Vancouver is poised to see a completely rain-free July, as dry weather drives up the risk of forest fires across B.C.
Monday marks the city’s 32nd consecutive day without rain; by Tuesday, the dry spell will be one of the 10 longest ever recorded in Vancouver. No rain is expected until Friday, or possibly even later.
Almost the entire southern half of B.C. currently has a high or extreme fire danger rating, according to the Wildfire Management Branch, as dry weather contributes to fires across the region.
The Vancouver area’s fire danger is currently rated as high, but could be upgraded to extreme within the week.
West Vancouver Fire Department’s assistant chief Martin Ernst cautions that under such conditions, a dropped cigarette or poorly extinguished campfire could lead to a large forest fire.
“Extreme really just means extra vigilance out there, knowing that we’re in extreme conditions,” said Ernst.
In the interior, a fire has been burning near Okanagan Falls since Sunday afternoon. By Monday it had scorched an estimated 70 hectares, or just under three-quarters of a square kilometre of grassland, sage brush and open timber.
Calming winds have helped crews fight the fire, which authorities said was 70 per cent under control as of Monday morning, but 12 homes remain under evacuation alert.
Fire information officer Melissa Welsh said the blaze was likely human-caused.
A similarly large fire also broke out near Kamloops Lake on Saturday, but was contained over the weekend.
The dry conditions may be hazardous to outdoor enthusiasts across southern B.C., and could soon prompt a campfire ban, said Welsh.