By: Vancouver 24 hours
While there are fewer wildfires this week than last, an upcoming thunderstorm predicted for early next week following a dry weekend means the fight isn’t over yet.
As of Thursday, there are 166 wildfires burning across the province, but thunderstorms next week and a humid, dry weekend threaten that progress, according to the BC Wildfire Service.
There were 12 new wildfires in B.C. Wednesday compared to 10 fires the day before, and fire crews have responded to 1,104 fires this year compared to 583 fires at the same time in 2014.
Kevin Skrepnek, the service’s chief fire information officer, said the estimated costs so far sit at $122 million and 293,000 hectares of land have been burned.
Last year to date, 103,000 hectares have been burned with a cost of $54 million.
Skrepnek said thundershowers are predicted to hit next week, and lightning strikes lead to more wildfires.
Matt MacDonald, Environment Canada meteorologist, said the dry weekend ahead isn’t “going to be of any help and with temperatures increasing, it’s another tick in the checkmark list that increases forest fires.”
Mike Morris, parliamentary secretary to the minister of forests, lands and natural resource operations, said the province is considering new ways to crack down on people who cause wildfires — from impounding a car for flicking a cigarette butt out the window, to doubling fines for failing to extinguish a campfire.
“It’s often said that you can’t legislate against stupidity, but if exploring the idea of harsher penalties for careless acts means more people get the message, we must do it,” he said in a statement.
“Naturally occurring fires from sources like lightning are difficult enough for our dedicated firefighters to handle.”