Wildfire season 3 weeks behind normal in B.C.

Fire season 3 weeks behind

Thanks to a soggy spring, the wildfire season in B.C. is trending about three weeks behind normal, according to a new seasonal outlook from the B.C. Wildfire Service. 

Up until Aug. 9, just 369 wildfires have burned across the province, significantly less than 624 wildfires recorded in the same time in 2019 — which was already considered a slow year for firefighters. 

Just 847 hectares of forest have burned so far this year, a figure dwarfed by the current five-year annual average of 224,000 hectares. Looking further back, the 25-year average sees about 90,000 hectares of B.C. forest burn a year. 

“The 2020 B.C. wildfire season has been wetter than normal with limited amount of drying days with the exception being the second half of July,” the seasonal outlook says.

“Current fire weather and available fuel indices are about three weeks behind normal August conditions, which supports the slower fire season we are currently experiencing. Weather models are forecasting cooler temperatures and possibly a continuing wet pattern for August,” the outlook continues. 

“These expected conditions will slow the growth of indices, particularly in the south, and maintain below-normal fire behaviour conditions for this time in the wildfire season.”

The Wildfire Service says it expects “continued initial attack and sustained action success” as long as damp conditions persist,  but extreme care should still be taken where drying continues to occur. 

BCWS says while there was a spate of lightning-caused fires in late July, crews were able to to quickly get a handle on them because they were often on steeper slopes with smaller fuels in areas that had not fully dried.

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