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Forests Minister Katrine Conroy says it’s been a below-average wildfire season so far this year in British Columbia, but high fire risks are forecast for September.

She says the number of wildfires and the area they have burned since April both compare favourably with the 20-year average, with 1,355 fires charring 430 square kilometres this year.

That is only about one-sixth of the area burned by 1,515 fires to this date on average, and one-20th of the 8,650 square kilometres burned last year, when the province was scorched by the heat-dome weather event.

Ms. Conroy says 93 per cent of this season’s fires have been extinguished or are under control.

Neil McLoughlin, a BC Wildfire Service spokesman, says up to 75 per cent of B.C. wildfires were caused by lightning this season, with 98,000 strikes recorded in August.

He says warm, dry weather is forecast to continue through September, which will keep fire risks high in the province’s southwest and northeast regions.

“So what do we have in store for September?” Mr. McLoughlin says. “Right now our Pacific Ocean temperatures remain 3 to 5 degrees Celsius above normal and that’s going to translate into warmer-than-normal temperatures through September for most of the province.”

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