Wildfire season quiet so far

The Southeast Fire Centre says it has had to respond to only about a quarter as many forest fires this year compared to the same time in 2010.

Wildfire fuel mitigation work — as seen here in Rosemont in late winter — continues due to the quiet start to the fire season in Southeast BC.

The Southeast Fire Centre says it has had to respond to only about a quarter as many forest fires this year compared to the same time in 2010.

Since April 1, there have been a total of 30 fires, 20 of them human-caused and the rest the result of lightning, which have burned a little over 28 hectares combined. Last year, there had been 117 fires by now, 39 human-caused.

The Kootenay Lake forest district has been the third-quietest of the six zones the Southeast Fire Centre covers. Four fires have consumed 0.6 of a hectare. The Arrow and Boundary zones have each seen three fires, consuming 0.03 hectares.

The Cranbrook district has had the most fires, at eight, which consumed 1.3 hectares, while the Columbia district’s five fires were responsible for the most burned timber, 23.6 hectares.

The five-year average has seen 230 fires to date by this time, with 1,296 hectares burned.

“Due to the slow start to the fire season, a total of 68 individual Southeast Fire Centre officers, support staff, dispatchers, and crewpersons are presently deployed out‐of‐province to assist with fires in Ontario,” the centre said in a newsletter issued Friday.

“The deployment coupled with earlier deployments to Alberta, Alaska have provided 80 per cent of the Southeast Fire Centre staff with out‐of‐province opportunities.”

The slow start has also allowed crews to continue working on management projects throughout the region, which aim to reduce the potential for devastating fires by managing forest fuels.

“By reducing fuels in areas where forest meets community development (referred to as wildland urban interface), fires will pose less of a threat to residents and will be safer for firefighting crews,” the newsletter said.

Despite the relatively small number of fires to date, the Southeast Fire Centre says extreme caution must still be exercised with campfires, which must be less than half a meter wide by half a meter high.

The fire danger rating in the Southeast is rated low to moderate for the most part with a few pockets of high and extreme.

2011 WILDFIRES IN THE SOUTHEAST FIRE CENTRE

Zone             Total Fires     Total Hectares

Columbia         5         23.588

Invermere         7         2.627

Cranbrook         8         1.344

Kootenay Lake     4        0.618

Arrow             3         0.027

Boundary         3         0.027

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