The Cowichan Valley had its first wildfire of the season last weekend. Fortunately, it did not reach the scale of blazes, like the one pictured, that plagued the province last summer. (File photo)

Cowichan’s first wildfire of the season extinguished near Lake Cowichan

Authorities hoping for wet spring

Low humidity and high winds helped feed a small wildfire on April 27 south of Lake Cowichan, by the Fairservice Main logging road.

Donna MacPherson, a spokeswoman for B.C.’s Coastal Fire Centre, said the fire, on private forest land, grew to about 1.5 hectares before firefighters got it under control.

She said the fire, which was determined to have been caused by humans, is one of seven the CFC has dealt with so far this spring in coastal areas, with the usual number at this time of the year around four.

MacPherson said the month of March in B.C.’s coastal areas is typically wet, but it wasn’t as wet this year and that is a factor in the increased number of wildfires.

“We went straight from snow to sun this year, which is what northern regions typically get in March, but it’s unusual for the coast,” she said.

“The sun stopped the usual ‘greening up’ of the coastal areas for a time, leaving dead and dry grass on top of the ground that’s easy to ignite. People who are backyard burning this spring should be aware that conditions are a little drier than usual right now.”

Last year was the worst wildfire season on record in B.C., with approximately 1,300,000 hectares burned in almost 600 fires by the end of August.

RELATED STORY: 2018 NOW B.C.’S WORST WILDFIRE SEASON ON RECORD

The province declared a state of emergency in early August, and the smoky and hazy air from fires burning in the province’s interior covered the Lower Mainland and parts of Vancouver Island late in August, prompting heath authorities to issue air-quality advisories.

RELATED STORY: WILDFIRE SMOKE BLANKETS B.C. AND ALBERTA, PROMPTING AIR QUALITY ADVISORIES

MacPherson said those who are in jurisdictions that allow backyard burning should ensure their fires this spring are situated so they can’t spread; they shouldn’t burn if it’s windy; and the fires should be closely monitored and completely out and cold before they are left.

She said, while long-range weather forecasts are difficult to predict and hard to depend on, Environment Canada is calling for a warmer than normal spring and summer months this year, with normal amounts of precipitation.

“The number of wildfires we have depends a lot on the precipitation,” MacPherson said.

“If it rains in moderate amounts every few days, we’ll have less fires, but if it comes in several large rain events with long dry periods in between, it increases the fire risk. We always hope for a lot of rain in June, but that’s been hit-and-miss over the last few years.”



robert.barron@cowichanvalleycitizen.com

Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter

Just Posted

RDN adopts new bylaw to prevent backflow

Board wants to avoid legal liability

Former Parksville Generals player lands head coaching gig in Norway

New position is a dream come true for Henry Acres

Parksville resort fire caused by flammable gas used to extract oil from cannabis

Investigators detail reasons for explosion and blaze that destroyed building

Suspect arrested following gunpoint robbery in Qualicum Beach

Stop and Shop Grocery was robbed June 5; man now in custody

UPDATED: Wildfire burning near Taylor Flats in the Alberni Valley

Fire is located close to Highway 4 near Sproat Lake

PHOTOS: Elusive ‘ghost whale’ surfaces near Campbell River

Ecotourism operator captures images of the rare white orca

Suicide confirmed in case of B.C. father who’d been missing for months

2018 disappearance sparked massive search for Ben Kilmer

Victoria mom describes finding son ‘gone’ on first day of coroners inquest into overdose death

Resulting recommendations could change handling of youth records amidst the overdose crisis

B.C. church’s Pride flag defaced for second time in 12 days

Delta’s Ladner United Church says it will continue to fly the flag for Pride month

Otters devour 150 trout at Kootenay hatchery

The hatchery has lost close to 150 fish in the past several months

Dash-cam video in trial of accused cop killer shows man with a gun

Footage is shown at trial of Oscar Arfmann, charged with killing Const. John Davidson of Abbotsford

Eight U.S. senators write to John Horgan over B.C. mining pollution

The dispute stems from Teck Resources’ coal mines in B.C.’s Elk Valley

Threats charge against Surrey’s Jaspal Atwal stayed

Atwal, 64, was at centre of controversy in 2018 over his attendance at prime minister’s reception in India

Anti-vaxxer Robert F. Kennedy Jr. to speak in Surrey

He’s keynote speaker at Surrey Environment and Business Awards luncheon by Surrey Board of Trade Sept. 17

Most Read