BC Wildfire Service said the number of wildfires reported so far is 'not abnormal'.

'Normal' start to fire season

The official start of the 2021 wildfire season was April 1, but several wildfires have ignited across the Interior over the past month as the weather starts to warm.

As of Wednesday, the BC Wildfire Service is showing 11 wildfires currently active in the province. Nine of them are in the Kamloops Fire Centre region, which incorporates most of the Southern Interior.

The numbers include one large wildfire near Merritt, covering 839 hectares and classified as being held as of Wednesday afternoon.

Nicole Bonnett, a fire information officer for BC Wildfire Service, said the number of fires reported so far is fairly normal.

She said across the Kamloops Fire Centre area, valley bottoms are quite dry, which is where most of the fire activity is located.

“Most of what we seen, at least in the Kamloops Fire Centre right now, is spring grass fires. And those are actually pretty common for this time of year. So I would say that we haven't seen anything out of the norm,” Bonnett said.

“It’s because over the winter, all of those grasses and surface fuels, they die, they dry out, they're covered with snow. Then once that snow melts off and things start to warm up a little bit, all those dead fuels really dry up and they become quite easily ignitable.”

The BC Wildfire Service has said the 2020 wildfire season was quieter than expected, with 637 fires burning between April and October.

Bonnett said the weather forecast closer to summer will help them predict what the upcoming season will bring.

“Usually it's more what we see weather-and-conditions-wise May into early June,” she said.

“It’s really dependent sometimes on how much precipitation we see in the next few months.”

According to the BC Wildfire Service, at this point in the season, most fires are human-caused, the blazes made worse by dry vegetation and high winds.

They have advised property owners with burning permits to watch for strong winds, and people should be careful handling possible sources of ignition, like cigarette butts, near grass and leaves.

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