A wildfire burning at Klanawa near Sarita Bay on the west coast of Vancouver Island near Bamfield is already 12 hectares according to BC Wildfire. (Submitted photo)

Hot weather, brush fires could spell early start to Vancouver Island wildfire season

Coastal Fire Centre considering a campfire prohibition as soon as next week

Wildfire season could be off to an early start this year on Vancouver Island.

The BC Wildfire Service has added a report of new 12-hectare blaze near Bamfield today to reports a five-hectare blaze in Sayward and a small blaze measuring .2 hectares in Sooke to a week that has already featured a pair of blazes in Cowichan.

Coastal Fire Centre hasn’t brought in fire restrictions for the year, but is considering some, possibly as early as Monday, May 13, said Dorthe Jakobsen, fire information officer.

Record heat combined with wind have created dry conditions, but the ground is also dry this year because of a cold winter that brought snow but not spring rains that would normally help soak snowmelt into the earth.

“So we’ve had kind of a dry late winter and spring. We haven’t had the precipitation we normally would,” Jakobsen said. “We’re getting some pretty warm temperatures and things are drying out. It’s getting pretty dry out there and the fire danger rating is increasing as we speak, so we will be looking a prohibitions, probably next week.”

Coastal Fire Centre’s fire season starts April 1 and, to date, 2019 has seen double the five-year average for wildfires and is already rivalling 2018 and 2017, which were B.C.’s two worst fire seasons.

“Since April 1 we’ve had 21 fires, all human-caused, and the five-year-average at this time is 10,” she said.

Jakobsen said it’s still too early to know if the 2019 fire season is early, but the province has firefighting crews ready to respond.

“If we get the June rains then we could be OK,” she said.

RELATED: Crews called to bush fires at Nanaimo’s Barsby Park

RELATED: Unusually dry March leads to dozens of grass fires in B.C.

On Thursday night, North Cedar Fire Department battled a small but stubborn fire on the island in Quennell Lake south of Nanaino that took several hours to completely snuff out.

Percy Tipping, North Cedar Fire Department chief, said the cause of the fire isn’t certain, but is suspected to be the result of a campfire on the weekend that was put out, but was fanned back to life by several days of wind and high temperatures.

“Essentially, as for size, I think it was probably 20, 30 feet by 50 to 60 feet, but it got deep-seated into the root systems of some of the trees there,” Tipping said. “So it took us a while to get that finished up there. I think we were there four hours.”

The Quennell Lake fire was one of several, including a half-hectare grass fire on Raines Road, that his department had to knock down in recent days.

“We’re in the higher fire rating right now, so there’s no open burning in our district, other than campfires,” Tipping said.

Geoff Whiting, Nanaimo Fire Rescue assistant chief, said Nanaimo’s usual fire restrictions are in place and prohibit backyard burning and smoking and campfires in parks. Cooking fires will be banned when Coastal Fire Centre brings in the seasonal campfire ban.

“We’re at quite a high [fire danger] rating already, though,” Whiting said. “We’re at a four out of five rating, which is pretty early in the season to be at that and that’s set by coastal fire … You know, it’s usually June or the end of June. We can often go through May at a three so it’s a month early, anyway.”

Hot weather has already contributed to landscaping bark mulch and small brush fires around Nanaimo, mostly started by discarded cigarettes. Bark mulch fires can smoulder unnoticed for hours, even days, Whiting said, and can easily flare up to spark structure fires.

“We’re asking people to be very safe, of course, to do really good open fire best practices,” Jakobsen said. “Monitoring, fully extinguish, make sure everything’s cold, make sure you’re taking weather conditions into account and don’t burn if you don’t have to.”

RELATED: Logging companies close gates, deny access to backcountry



photos@nanaimobulletin.com
Like us on
Facebook and follow us on Twitter

Just Posted

Holiday Country Grocer campaign returns to make children’s dreams come true

Proceeds from campaign go towards Help Fill A Dream foundation

Greater Victoria Cycling Coalition and Bike to Work Society merge

The new organization plans a full roll out in spring 2020

Canadian men will play Olympic basketball qualifying tournament in Victoria

The six teams in Victoria will be divided into two groups of three with each playing all the other teams in its own group

Crews respond to a crash on Douglas Street in Saanich

Crash took place in northbound lanes on Douglas Street Friday morning

Victoria owl tangled in net for two days faces long road to recovery

Barred owl rescued by Victoria Animal Control, taken to Wild ARC

VIDEO: Disney Plus adds disclaimer about racist stereotypes

Disney’s disclaimer is a good way to begin discussion about the larger issue of racism

Greater Victoria 2019 holiday craft fair roundup

Get a jump on your holiday shopping

POLL: Do you support CUPE workers in their dispute with School District 63?

SD63 schools to remain closed as strike continues Tuesday

Greater Victoria Crime Stoppers wanted list for the week of Nov. 12

Greater Victoria Crime Stoppers is seeking the public’s help in locating the… Continue reading

New case of vaping-related illness in Quebec brings national total to 8

Quebec health minister considering tightening the rules around vaping products

Greens to vote against Liberal throne speech unless carbon targets toughened: May

Green leader Elizabeth May and Prime Minister Justin Trudeau met Friday, discussing common ground

Senior dies after suffering medical emergency and crashing vehicle in Nanoose Bay

Bystanders performed CPR while waiting for first responders

Man, 50, dies following incident in downtown Parksville

Teenage girl hailed as hero for intervening after witnessing situation unfold

First Nations ‘optimistic’ about road upgrades after Horgan visits site of fatal bus crash

Premier travelled Bamfield Main road, where bus flipped last September and two students were killed

Most Read