Number of Wildfires This Season Below Average, But Impact Widespread
Prince George, B.C. – While the number of hectares burned by wildfires so far this year has topped the million mark ( see previous story) the number of fires that have happened is not out of line with previous years.
On average, B.C. has just over 1800 fires during a fire season. From April 1st to August 21st, the Province has seen 1064 fires. During the same time frame last year, there had been 916 fires, and in the previous year, there had been 1741 fires between April 1st and August 21st.
“The devil is in the details” says Kevin Skrepnek, Chief Information Officer with the B.C. Wildfire Service.”So far this year, we have had 1064 fires, that is, realistically, below average for where we would usually be at this point.”
He says the below average number is due to the fact fire activity this past spring was quiet “The big story across most of the province this spring was flooding. So we had unusually low fire numbers going into late June and early July when things started to pick up.”
He says when you look at it in terms of the number of fires, that statistic alone would suggest this hasn’t been a particularly significant season “When you take everything else into account, particularly in the area burned, the impacts and significance of the fires , the actual number of fires we’ve responded to, it doesn’t tell the whole tale.”
The fires this year have resulted in the evacuation of more than 40 thousand people from a number of communities throughout the Cariboo and Thompson Nicola Regional Districts. There are still about 3,800 who remain on evacuation order, another 9700 on evacuation alert.
As of yesterday, it was estimated the fires so far this season have burned 1,021,674 hectares, and the Plateau fire is responsible for nearly half that number.
The Plateau fire, which is burning in the area north of highway 20, became one large blaze as 19 smaller fires merged. At an estimated size of 467,461 hectares, it is believed to be the largest single fire ever recorded in B.C.