Parksville, B.C.—While recent dry weather is increasing wildfire risk on the Island, the cool and damp spring means things are starting off slow.
Coastal Fire Centre information officer Julia Caranci says the cooler weather has helped at the beginning of the wildfire season, but the latest weather trend means fuel will be drying out quickly.
“We have seen the fire danger rating in much of the coastal fire centre move up into the moderate range because of this current dry trend we’re seeing,” said Caranci. “We have this ridge of high pressure that’s been sitting over us for the last few days, and we’ve been seeing seasonal to above seasonal temperatures in some inland regions.”
Caranci adds the hot weather is predicted to end on Monday, however, the pattern is what will cause the fuels to dry out faster.
“We’ve been in what’s called an outflow [pattern], and that means that drier air from the interior is moving over the coast,” she said. “That’s bringing our relative humidity down lower than what it otherwise would be and accelerating the drying of those fine fuels.”
Cooler weather is returning this week, with the chance of rain in the forecast. BC Wildfire Service is hoping this will bring the fire risk back down over the short term.
With a cooler, wet spring, the coastal fire centre has not seen the normal amount of fires for this time of year. Caranci says there have been six fires in the region so far, lower than at the same time last year.
Caranci says they will be monitoring conditions as they change. For residents of the Island, she says to make sure that campfires are held responsibly and to report any signs of a wildfire to keep them from spreading.
“If you’re going to have a campfire, know the right way to have a campfire. Keep it small, have a fire guard around it, make sure you have tools on had to put it out, never leave it unattended and do not leave the area until the fire is completely out and cool to the touch,” she said.
“If you see a column of smoke, or if you see a wildfire to report it.”
Caranci asks the public to call 1-800-663-5555 or *5555 from their cell phone.
Most of Vancouver Island is at moderate risk, with parts of the South Island considered high-risk areas.