Wildfire risk increases

With temperatures well above seasonal norms, the risk of grass fires in the area is higher than usual.

With temperatures well above seasonal norms, the risk of grass fires in the area is higher than usual.

“We are experiencing above normal conditions,” said Kayla Pepper, communications officer with the Kamloops Fire Centre.

“For March, it’s unseasonably dry. These are conditions we’d normally be seeing in April.”

The regional fire centre manages wildland firefighting efforts in the Thompson-Okanagan region.

She added that the unusually warm and dry weather now should not be seen as an indicator of a significant fire season this summer.

“It’s difficult to predict what the fire season will look like,” she said, adding that wet weather in June could reduce the risk of fires later in the summer.

The dry conditions at present are a concern because the new green vegetation has not yet started to grow.

Rob Robinson of the Summerland Fire Department said residents need to consider the weather conditions, especially during open burning.

“People need to do their due diligence,” he said.

The open burning season continues until April 15.

Those who are burning yard wastes or agricultural wastes must check the venting index in advance.

Fire safety regulations are also available on the bcwildfire.ca website.

In addition to safety around open burning, Robinson urges residents to keep their yards clear of pine needles and tall grasses in order to minimize their risk.

The fire risk was high last summer and Giant’s Head Park was temporarily closed to vehicular traffic in an attempt to reduce the risk.

While conditions have been dry in Summerland, the latest snow measurements, taken on March 1, show the snow pack at Summerland Reservoir is at 100 per cent of the normal level while at Isintok Lake the snow pack is at 94 per cent of the normal level.