Dry days will boost fire hazard

Hot weather is drying out wildlands and increasing the fire hazard.

The risk of a wildfire in the Okanagan Valley has been extremely low following above normal rainfall in June, but the recent hot weather could change things quickly.

Kevin Skrepnek, fire information officer with the Kamloops Fire Centre, said the risk of a wildfire was low last week, but the risk level changes daily.

“We are expecting hot and dry weather coming up,” he said.

With the temperatures as forecast, he said the risk could easily go to moderate or high within days.

Because of the soggy spring, campfires are still allowed, but they must measure no larger than half a metre square.

Fires larger than that size are considered open burning, which is prohibited at present.

“If you’re looking for a cooking fire, the cooler the better,” he said.

Despite the wet June weather, Skrepnek said wildfires are still possible this summer.

In 2003, the worst fire season in decades, the spring weather was wet, but a hot and dry July and August resulted in fires throughout the province, including fires close to Kelowna, Penticton and other Okanagan centres.  Although the dry debris west of Summerland did not burn that year, Skrepnek said provincial forest fire crews have been out removing material in the Bald Range area west of Summerland in March and April.

He said the preventative measures are needed to reduce the risk of wildfires.

In recent years, 2009 had more fires, consuming more hectares of land, than in 2003, but the damage to buildings was lower. Skrepnek said this spring has been wet, but the winter was drier than normal.

Those who see a wildfire are urged to call #5555 to report it.

 

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