July 29, 2014 1:14 pm
Updated: July 29, 2014 3:03 pm

Stretch of drier weather across the province could mean greater fire risk

(AP Photo/The Record Searchlight, Greg Barnette)

While last week’s wet weather was a welcome break for firefighters battling wildfires across the province, a stretch of warmer weather this week means fire danger could be on the rise.

Provincial fire information officer Kevin Skrepnek says there are currently 104 fires burning across the province.

Thirteen new fires have been sparked since yesterday.

Since April 1, B.C. saw a total of 725 fires.

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The largest fire of note right now is south of the Chelaslie River.

It measures an estimated 52,000 hectares and has been burning since July 8.

BC Parks has issued an evacuation order for all cabin owners in Entiako Provincial Park because of the fire. The park has also been closed to all recreational users.

Skrepnek says there are no plans to bring in more help from out of province, but they are getting set for an increase in wildfires over the weekend as dry conditions continue.

“The rain we had last week was very much a temporary reprieve,” says Skrepnek. “The next five to seven days, we are expecting hot, dry weather. Our concern is the high pressure system will have to eventually break down. When that happens, that could lead to really stormy, unsettled weather, high wind and potentially lightning. If that comes in as dry lightning, that could be a big cause for concern.”

Global BC meteorologist Mark Madryga says the hot mid-summer weather under a massive high pressure ridge will continue for at least another week across Southern and Central British Columbia.

“Conditions will remain very dry, and in the Southern Interior low relative humidity will combine with afternoon temperatures between 35 and 40 degrees from today through BC Day.”

Madryga says it appears that a risk of lightning is also in the cards for the Southern Interior, but not until later in the long weekend.

Skrepnek says 421 of the 725 fires burning in the province right now were human caused and with the BC Day long weekend around the corner, people venturing into the backcountry need to be extra vigilant.

“There are some areas of the province where we have camp fire bans in effect,” he says. “Given the hot and dry weather in the forecast, I can’t rule out the possibility that we are going to see more bans before the weekend.”

Skrepnek says where camp fires are allowed, they have to be kept small and attended at all times.

“And it is not just the camp fires, when it is this dry, discarded cigarettes, even the heat or sparks coming from an exhaust pipe can be enough, especially if you are in tall, dry grass.”


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