April 23rd, 2024

Active spring wildfire season may be in store for B.C. as drought persists

By The Canadian Press on March 18, 2024.

British Columbia is introducing technology to improve wildfire prediction and decision-making even as the association representing Canadian insurance companies warns residents about the potential for another destructive fire season.The Elephant Hill wildfire burns in the distance near Clinton, as seen from behind a mountain on Kamloops Lake in Savona, B.C., on July 30, 2017. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Darryl Dyck

VANCOUVER – British Columbia could experience an active spring wildfire season as current forecasts say drought has parched parts of the province, while the snowpack is just 66 per cent of normal.

An update from forecasters says new human-caused fires have already been discovered this year because of the incredibly warm, dry and windy conditions.

They say numerous holdover wildfires in the northeast have smouldered through the winter, and once the snow melts and the land dries out, moderate winds will be enough for them to start burning again.

A statement from the province says that “until significant and sustained rains occur, the risk of ignition will remain elevated.”

The forecast says there is potential for prolonged drought, and communities and businesses need to take water-conservation measures early.

Premier David Eby told an earlier news conference where he announced $80 million to help farmers cope with drought, that the province “can’t afford to be subtle” when it comes to climate change.

“The climate here in B.C. is changing really rapidly,” he said.

“We are seeing records set for everything from drought to snowfall to heat and what we are hearing from experts is that this summer might be a very difficult one.”

The premier attributed the conditions to the cumulative effects of low snowpack, drought and higher temperatures.

This report by The Canadian Press was first published March 18, 2024.

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