Extreme fire danger assessment for Ashcroft, Lillooet and Merritt ahead of storm

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An extended period of record-breaking heat combined with the forecast of dry lightning and high winds has put renewed attention on B.C.’s forests and the threat of wildfires.

“Currently we are seeing a medium to high fire danger rating across the Kamloops Fire Centre, with areas of extreme fire danger in Ashcroft, Lillooet and Merritt,” said Ayday Coray, fire information officer with the BC Wildfire Service.

What offsets this assessment, however, is that fewer fires occurred this year than is seasonal normal.

Coray said there have been 66 fires in B.C. since April 1, when fire season began. This time last year, 145 fires were already underway. The 10-year average for fires in BC is around 120 for this time of summer. There are only four fires at the Kamloops Fire Center alone, three of which are under control.

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“So compared to the long term, we’re in a better place, but it’s clear that this trend of warming and drying that we’re seeing is only going to worsen the existing drought conditions that we already have in the Fire Center. fuels are just drier and flashier and available to burn,” she said.

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Coray said the wildfire agency is prepared for whatever comes next and can get to work quickly.

“This year we had record hiring across the province,” she said. “Our teams worked throughout the winter to not only extend the window in which we were canvassing and recruiting – we expanded to April, which is longer than normal – but also just give people more opportunities to connect with local zones and staff members and learn more about our program before applying and committing to the job.”

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The end result is also more firefighters. Coray said a number of crews had been hired across the province.

There is also increased awareness among the public, which she described as the “eyes and ears of the BC Wildfire Service on the ground.”

“It’s really critical if people see a wildfire or an unattended campfire that they report it through the new BC Wildfire Service app,” she said. “You can send photos through it and that has really helped us make those operational decisions much faster. So all of these plans are the larger response to wildfire.

To report wildfires and open fire violations via the Wildfire Reporting Hotline at 1 800 663-5555 (toll-free) or *5555 on a cell phone.

&copy 2024 Global News, a division of Corus Entertainment Inc.

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