A North Okanagan wildfire that reached 100 hectares in size this week before being contained is a stark reminder that fire season is here.
According to data from the B.C. Wildfire Service (BCWS), the fire started small on April 1 before quickly growing in size. Currently, it is listed as being held, with the fire’s cause listed as unknown.
The fire, which burned scrubland near Okanagan Lake, fell under the jurisdiction of the Okanagan Indian Band, with crews from B.C. Wildfire acting in a support role.
In B.C., fire season typically runs from April 1 to October 1. The BCWS says over the past 10 years, the yearly average is 1,356 wildfires burning 347,000 hectares.
Though the 2021 wildfire season is only three days old, BCWS data shows that 10 fires have already been reported this year.
“We’re in the spring-shoulder season,” said B.C. Wildfire spokesperson Nicole Bonnett. “From the wildfire side of things, we’re working with our partners, doing some prescribed burning, and there are property owners doing spring yard cleanup.
“So the little fire activity we’ve seen so far, I would say isn’t out of the norm. It’s just that you have all those (fire) fuels on the surface – like dead grasses that died over the winter – that are on the drier side.
“If somebody’s not careful with their fire use, then when the wind comes along, things can get out of hand.”
For 2020, the numbers were low, with 637 wildfires burning 15,000 hectares of land. BCWS attributed the decline to an unseasonably cool and wet June and July, before fire activity picked up in August.
2020 statistics by fire centre, according to BCWS:
- Southeast Fire Centre – 194 wildfires; 11,099 hectares burned.
- Kamloops Fire Centre – 182 wildfires; 2,521 hectares burned
- Coastal Fire Centre – 124 wildfires; 1,194 hectares burned
- Cariboo Fire Centre – 48 wildfires; 57 hectares burned
- Prince George Fire Centre – 57 wildfires; 251 hectares burned
- Northwest Fire Centre – 32 wildfires; 52 hectares burned
Bonnett said BCWS “is trying to remind everybody that when you’re doing your backyard cleanup, or any yard work at home or out enjoying the outdoors and have a campfire, be mindful of all the open-burning regulations.”