The fire season that wasn't

The summer of 2019 defied predictions.

The brutal wildfire season of smoky skies and campfire bans that characterized the summers of 2017 and 2018, and which the province braced for, never materialized.

“The takeaway from this season would be that those predictions, are just predictions and they are not written in stone. Weather is dynamic. Sometimes it is going to be in our favour and sometimes it is not,” said Erika Berg, fire information officer with the BC Wildfire Service.

“The weather really helped us this year, otherwise, it would have been very similar to the two previous years, I am afraid,” Jakobsen said.

B.C. is divided into six wildfire regions.

Province-wide, the BC Wildfire Service responded to 782 wildfires so far this year, according to Berg.

The Kamloops fire region had the most fire starts at 195.

Province-wide, 430 blazes were human-caused this season while roughly 340 were lightning-caused.

In 2018, the province saw over 2,000 wildfires. “So quite a difference,” Berg said

This year, approximately 21,000 hectares have burned, while in 2018, 1.3 million hectares were ablaze.

This fire season was so much better than expected that the Coastal Fire Centre was able to send some of its crews out of province to help fight wildfires: 151 people were sent to Alberta, 22 were sent to the Yukon and nine were sent to Ontario.

Provincially, Berg said the biggest deployment of resources was to Lillooet, for the Fraser River landslide that happened in late June. Crews were tasked with flying salmon over the rockslide on the Fraser River so they could spawn upstream.

“That has been keeping us the most busy,” Berg said, adding that the fire information office let out a cheer when they reached the “funny statistic” of more fish flown than hectares burned this summer.

As of Sept. 12, the province had seen close to 500,000 lightning strikes this year. The yearly average over the previous 18 years was 266,000 lightning strikes. July was also significantly wetter than normal.

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