British Columbia has prepared and spent like never before to fight wildfires, only to find this year’s fire season is off to a damp start.
Matt MacDonald, lead forecaster for the BC Wildfire Service, says cooler temperatures, spring rains and fewer lightning strikes are contributing to a slower-than-normal start to the wildfire season in the province.
He says cool, wet weather is expected through June, but warmer-than-normal temperatures are coming in late July and will continue through August, raising the wildfire threat.
Wildfires last year destroyed most of the village of Lytton, B.C., and forced almost 200 evacuation orders during a near-record season where 1,610 wildfires charred 8,682 square kilometres of land, primarily in southern and southeastern B.C.
Forests Minister Katrine Conroy says despite current low fire hazard forecasts, B.C. made the largest investment in its history this year at $359-million to prepare and protect people and communities from wildfires.
Mr. MacDonald says so far this year, there have been 137 wildfire reports, burning about 600 hectares, well below annual averages for this time of year.
He says the likelihood of a heat dome weather event like the one that resulted in almost 600 deaths last summer appears low this year, but the advance timeline for such a forecast is limited to about two weeks.
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