Compared to last year, the Coastal Fire Region has 50 fewer forest fires to deal with, but fire officials warn public to be careful over hot long weekend
The long weekend is here, and travelers are getting an early start.
Up Island, picture perfect scenery awaits, and in some spots, a much different story from a year ago when smoke filled the air.
“At this time last year, we had 50 more fires than we do so far,” says Donna MacPherson from the Coastal Fire Centre.
Last year, there was a smokey haze over Victoria as wildfires near Pemberton reached 20-thousand hectares.
More than 20 crews battled a 35-hectare fire within eye shot of Sproat Lake.
Meanwhile, more than 200 residents were forced from their homes in Port Hardy as a blaze tore through close to 20 hectares, among many others.
“We had a fire in South Park that closed down part of the the Circle highway near Lizard Lake, who are near Cowichan Bay,” says MacPherson.
“We had several large fires on Vancouver Island and the ones we had were growing very rapidly.”
But Mother Nature has played a big role in not allowing history to repeat itself this year.
“This year as we went into the fire season, we had a really good soak on the forest through the winter,” says MacPherson.
She adds, “and then over the summer we had those nice periodic rains where we had a few days of sun, a few days of rain, few days of sun, few days of rain.”
“That’s very good for the forests.”
View Royal fire department is getting set for the long weekend.
Last year, grass fires were all over the capital region, but activity is down in 2016.
But with sustained heat, comes potential for that to change.
“Our current fire danger rating is high,” says Lt. Rob Marshall.
“We haven’t seen the data come out yet, but we’re probably looking at going to extreme this weekend, so it is dry out there and there is that possibility as well.”
While the weather has helped keep fires down, so has public awareness.
“We’re just coming off the Fort MacMurray fire that happened this spring as well, so it’s still fresh in every body’s mind, so I’d have to attribute most of it to the public and their awareness and their prevention,” says Marshall.
Fire officials say the best way to keep blazes from sparking again is to make sure camp fires are out and cigarette butts are properly put away.