Rain to help calm coastal wildfires, more needed to bring risk down

(Courtesy BC Wildfire Service)

For coastal fire crews, the damp weather is a welcome sight for sore eyes after a long season. However, they add more consistent rain will be needed before changes can be noticed.

BC Wildfire Service fire information officer Marg Drysdale says their crews are very happy to see an end to the long season.

“Our people are really excited to see the rain coming in. It has been a long season and despite the fact that we had a season that started late we have had more fires in the Coastal Fire Centre than we did last year,” said Drysdale.

Drysdale says in the 2021 fire season there were 209 fires. This year has seen 272 fires so far, a jump mainly due to weather events.

“We had several lightning bands come through the Coastal Fire Centre so we did have numerous fires caused by lightning,” said Drysdale. “Most of those were in high elevation and they’re continuing to be modified response fires.”

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The elevation and location of many of the fires are out of the way of infrastructure, leading them to be modified responses. However, Drysdale says the effects of the smoke have been felt throughout the season.

The rain that is beginning will help to calm down fire activity. Drysdale says they will have to see how the rain will affect the conditions after this weekend.

“We are expecting 10 to 15 millimetres of rain on the South Island which is really good news and five to 10 millimetres for the remainder of the island,” Drysdale said.

“So, we would like to see more rain in the gauges to get a better understanding of how it’s going to impact these fires but it’s definitely going to help calm fire behaviour drastically.”

Concerns with wind are at a minimum with the shorter days and should not cause much of an impact on the fires.

Fire risks are still high to extreme in multiple areas on Vancouver Island. BC Wildfire Service says immediate results could be seen in various areas, but there is no telling at this point.

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Drysdale reminds people that category 2 and category 3 prohibitions are still in place until at least Oct. 28 and might be extended depending on conditions.

The only fires allowed are campfires in the Coastal Fire Centre. They can only be half a metre wide and tall. Anything larger is an illegal open fire and fines are possible.