madisonsreport.com – It is obvious to everyone involved in the forest even superficially that this year’s fire season has come on very early and seems like it will be severe. Forest industry veterans say there has never been such extended hot, dry weather this early in the year. Indeed, mainstream media reports this week indicate that 62-thousand hectares of British Columbia forest have burned in wildfires in 2015, nearly four times the ten-year average for this time of year.
This means BC’s Wildfire Management Branch has already spent more than $52 million on firefighting this year, 80 per cent of the $63 million allotted for 2015.
By comparison, Chief provincial fire information officer Kevin Skrepnek told CBC in September that 1,424 fires had consumed more than 3,590 square kilometres of forest in the 2014 season.
Skrepnek said the provincial government spent more than $293 million fighting fires last year, compared to $122 million spent fighting 1,857 fires in 2013.
John Betts, Executive Director of the Western Silvicultural Contractors’ Association said to Madison’s by email Thursday, “[This] is pretty much what we have been saying all along. The only difference is that the types of fires we forecast would start happening now actually are. Meanwhile the conditions that create these fires have only continued to gain strength across the landscape. Considering the alignment between fuels, our very modest fuels management strategy, and the weather lately there is the feeling that if the ignition foot drops we are in for it.”
And “in for it” we are. A quick Google search pulled up seemingly endless pages of forest fires burning from Alaska and Yukon, through BC and Alberta, to the northwest US and especially California.
Of the more than 518 wildfires reported in BC since April 1, the most immediate concern was the Cisco Road fire near Lytton, where an evacuation alert was in effect Thursday. That fire, which is estimated to be 1,885 hectares, is considered 70-per-cent contained, though it still remains a threat to nearby buildings.
The Elaho fire, nearly 70 kilometres west of Pemberton, was estimated to be 700 hectares and is considered 40-per-cent contained. The fire is on steep, difficult-to-access terrain, though so far it’s not considered a threat to any people or homes.
Further north, the Little Bobtail Lake fire near Prince George, which has been burning since early May and prompted an evacuation alert affecting 80 people, is considered fully contained.