2016 wildfire season dramatically different than last year

July 18, 2016

By: Kelowna Now

One year ago, the wildfire situation in the region was significantly different than it is this year, and that’s good news.

This time last year, 219 fires had been sparked in the Kamloops Fire Centre, scorching a total of 3,600 hectares. This year, according to fire information officer Max Birkner, there have been 92 fires in the region and 243 hectares burned.

Birkner attributes mitigation work and cooler than normal temperatures for the decrease in numbers. But also said it seems as though the public is getting the message to keep cigarette butts from flying out their windows and making sure campfires are extinguished completely.

There are currently seven active fires in the Kamloops Fire Centre being monitored and they are in various states, but most are out. By this time last year, residents in Kelowna watched as a brush fire on Knox Mountain lit up the sky. An evacuation alert was issued for several homes near the fire atop the mountain.

A 90-hectare wildfire was burning in the mountainous region of the Snowy Protected Area near Cathedral Provincial Park in the South Okanagan. The fire burned for some time as it was in high elevation and no threat to people or structures.

A human-caused wildfire was sparked in Naramata but was luckily knocked down by crews before it could grow larger than 0.25 hectares in size.

A year ago to the date, there were five states of local emergency throughout the province and eight evacuation alerts/orders in place. More than 500 homes were under an evacuation alert and over 40 homes told to prepare to leave at a moment’s notice.

Firefighters were battling more than 200 active fires throughout B.C. including a massive 20,000-hectare blaze burning near Pemberton. On average, 30 wildfires were being sparked every single day and a campfire ban was in place province-wide.

Lightning sparks were to blame for the wildfire season as well as many human-caused blazes. Smoke blanketed the Okanagan Valley and satellite images showed just how massive some wildfires were and the resulting smoke.

So far this year, only a handful of fires have been sparked in the region and around the province. Welcome relief to those on the frontline working to protect our lands.

By: Kelowna Now

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