July 15, 2019 8:17 pm
Updated: July 15, 2019 8:51 pm

Okanagan conditions ‘obviously a little different than this time last year,’ says B.C. Wildfire Service

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It’s so far so good on the wildfire front in the Okanagan.

“It’s obviously a little different than this time last year,” said Nicole Bonnett, fire information officer for the Kamloops Fire Centre, which includes the Okanagan.

As of Monday, there were only two fires burning in the Okanagan, and only one of them still considered an active fire.

The Atsiklak Creek fire is burning six kilometres northeast of Oliver.

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The blaze was reported Sunday afternoon, and is half a hectare in size and not threatening any structures.

The cause is not known.

The B.C Wildfire Service said the fire is classified as “being held.”

“It’s not expected to grow beyond its current perimeter,” Bonnett told Global News.

The other fire in the Okanagan is even smaller.

It’s burning six kilomtres southeast of Lumby.

The .09-hectare fire is classified as being “under control.”

This season’s fire activity is a stark contrast to previous seasons, including last year.

“This time last year we had 133 fires for the fire season to date and this fire season to date we’ve had 95,” Bonnett said. “Last year at this point in the year, there had been 4,388 hectares that had been burned versus the 995 hectares that have been burned so far this season.”

Bonnett said the cooler and wetter conditions are making the difference.

“We have seen quite a bit more precipitation than we did last year and last year I think we saw quite a bit more lightning and the lightning we’ve seen this year has come with more precipitation, ” she said.

That has also resulted in a lower fire hazard rating for this time of year compared to previous seasons.

“A majority of the Kamloops Fire Centre is sitting in a low fire danger rating right now,” Bonnett said. “It’s largely low in the northern half of the Okanagan, so Vernon and Salmon Arm area have a few patches of moderate fire danger rating and then Kelowna pretty much down to Penticton all the way to the border is looking at mostly moderate with patches of low.”

Along with the absence of smoke, the province has not issued a campfire ban for our region.

“Campfires are still allowed as long as you are in an area that doesn’t have a municipal bylaw overruling that,” Bonnett said. “Just remember to keep your campfire in the half-a-metre by half-a-metre size and remove any combustibles like leaves, twigs, and things like that away from your campfire.”

Still, the B.C Wildfire Service is warning everyone to always be vigilant, even when the fire hazard is not rated as extreme.

Residents are also reminded to call in any fires or smoke they may spot in the wilderness.

“If people think they are seeing a new wildfire, if they can report that,” she said. “Provide as much information as possible, the more info that they can give, the easier it is to make our response more accurate and timely.”

To report a fire you can call 1-800-663-5555 or *5555 on a cell.

© 2019 Global News, a division of Corus Entertainment Inc.

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