85 per cent of BC's wildfires this year have been human caused

Jump in human-caused fires

While the number of wildfires across B.C. in 2020 has been far lower than years past, so far, the percentage of human-caused wildfires is close to double that of the last 10 years' average.

To date, 248 fires have burned an area 710 hectares across the province. Sixty-five of these fires have occurred within the Kamloops Fire Centre, which includes the entire Thompson-Okanagan region, burning just 162 hectares.

This is almost one-third of the average number of fires over the past 10 years up to July 31, and 70 times less than the average 11,348 hectares that are usually burned in the region up to this date.

During 2017's record-breaking fire season, the Kamloops Fire Centre had seen 161 fires burn a whopping 86,164 hectares by July 31.

But while the number of fires this year is significantly less than years past, so far, a much higher proportion have been human-caused. To date, 85 per cent of all fires across the province have been started by people. Over the past 10 years, an average of 46.3 per cent of fires were human-caused.

During the 2018 season, just 25.3 per cent of fires were human-caused, after the province saw a jump in lightning-caused fires that year.

The province saw a very wet spring and early summer this year, but the weather has turned around significantly over the past week, with temperatures hitting the high 30s in some parts of the Interior. And the forecast is calling for more hot and dry weather.

On Thursday, Minister of Forests Doug Donaldson urged British Columbians to be cautious heading into the long weekend.

"We've had a slow start to the 2020 fire season, but we need to remain vigilant,” he said. “The heatwave is upon us in many parts of the province, and we also know that August is typically a very high month for wildfire starts.”

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