60 New Fires Spotted Today
Prince George, B.C.- As thunderstorms rolled through the province, new fires have been sparked with 5 dozen reported today alone.
“We are seeing a big uptake in fire activity today because of lightning” says B.C. Wildfire Management Branch Chief Information Officer Kevin Skrepnek.
He says lightning sparked 60 new fires today alone, “We expect that number to ratchet up as the lightning moves through.” Eleven of those new fires were reported in the Prince George Fire Centre, most in the areas of Prince George, Hixon , McBride, Valemount. At this point, none of the new fires is considered major. Skrepnek expects that number to increase as the public reports new fire activity.
Skrepnek says initial attack crews are fighting the new starts in a variety of ways, “They’re going to be attacking fires on the ground via truck, they’re going to be brought in by helicopter, potentially they are going to be hitting multiple targets in a day, so we might have to get in, get a rough outline around the fire to get it contained, then move them on to a new incident and either have our one of our sustained action crews, or contract fire fighters come in to mop up the fire. This is definitely where our fire tanker fleet will really hit its stride. Given the number of fires, and given that the activity could be in remote areas that are hard to access, our tankers are going to be pretty active throughout the day in terms of putting some fire retardant around the fires which is going to buy some time for our crews on the ground to attack it from the ground.”
There are 209 wildfires burning across B.C. . Skrepnek says since April 1st, there have been 1197 fires, burning 293 thousand hectares. The costs for battling fires is now pegged at $132 million.
Last year at this time, there had been 640 fires, 166 thousand hectares burned at a cost of $71 million.
Rain and cooler temperatures are expected for the balance of the week, but there is a threat of more lightning “We are keeping an eye on the situation and seeing how it will develop over the next week.”