Forest fire season starts early in north, Cariboo

49 new fires detected on Monday alone, but Forests Minister Steve Thomson says it's too early to tell how wildfire season will go

The B.C. government has added $10 million to its program of prescribed burning and fuel management to protect communities.

A rash of grass and forest fires in the Peace region has the B.C. wildfire season off to an early start this week, after small fires were brought under control near Burns Lake and in the Cariboo in the past week.

The B.C. Wildfire Service recorded 49 fire starts across the province on Monday alone, with 37 of them in the Prince George fire centre. There were evacuation orders or alerts in four locations around Fort St. John, with the largest fire estimated at 3,000 hectares.

Forests Minister Steve Thomson said Tuesday the activity is several weeks earlier than last spring, prompted by high temperatures and winds in the Peace region that have since abated.

“This is an early start,” Thomson said. “It doesn’t necessarily indicate what the long-term outlook for the fire season will be.”

Chief fire information officer Kevin Skrepnek said the main forest fire season isn’t until July and August, and snowpacks and long-range forecasts for rainfall are not reliable indicators of severity.

“It’s not uncommon to have an early spring grass fire season in B.C., but certainly not the level of activity that we’re seeing in the Peace region and elsewhere,” Skrepnek said.

The province added $10 million to this year’s budget for wildfire protection and fuel management projects.

So far this spring there have been prescribed burns near Pemberton, Lytton, Savona near Kamloops and the Chimney Lake region in the Cariboo.

Thomson said the province has 1,400 staff ready to work on wildfires this season, with another 1,600 contract staff available and aircraft and other equipment standing by.

The Martin Mars aircraft based at Sproat Lake on Vancouver Island are not part of the ministry’s firefighting plan for the year, as other aircraft have shown their quick response and efficiency, Thomson said.


Just Posted

Quesnel resident knows things must change

‘I realize change must happen is somebody’s back yard’

Quesnel head coach thinks his team will match up well

Team has mix of size and skills that will keep them in games – speed questionable

Rick and Nico present two shows in Quesnel

Infamous veteran folkie Rick Scott and keyboard ace Nico Rhodes join forces for outstanding concert

March is Epilepsy Awareness Month

A list of places selling various food and non-food items to support the campaign

All change at the Observer

New editor takes the helm; longstanding Lifestyles editor retires

VIDEO: Climber ‘catches the sunrise’ over city atop B.C. crane

Police warn ‘rooftopping’ poses risk to climber, public and first responders

How to keep local news visible in your Facebook feed

Facebook has changed the news feed to emphasize personal connections. You might see less news.

Canadian survivors, supporters rally against proposed ’60s Scoop settlement

Some have accused the government of underestimating the number of survivors

Nordic athlete Arendz to be Canada’s flagbearer at Paralympic closing ceremony

The biathlete and cross-country skier from Hartsville has raced to five medals in Pyeongchang

Salmon Arm community cheers on Natalie Wilkie as she wins first gold medal

Local skier tops the podium in 7.5km race at the PyeongChang Paralympics

Experts: Society has a role in trying to prevent domestic violence

Experts are speaking out following the murder of a woman and her son in Ontario

Progress on fixing Phoenix pay system backlog could be short-lived: Ottawa

Feds have said they won’t try to recover money overpaid until all outstanding issues are fixed

Northern lights chasers in Canada discover new type named ‘Steve’

Phenomenon linked to a powerful current created by charged particles in Earth’s upper atmosphere

Washington state backs B.C. in pipeline dispute

Governor Jay Inslee says he is ‘allied’ with the province on Trans Mountain expansion projection

Most Read