Around 800 lightning strikes hit Vancouver Island, sparking wildfires

Around 800 lightning strikes hit Vancouver Island, sparking wildfires
Geoff Johnson/UkeeTube
Lightning strikes near Ucluelet on Aug. 10, 2022.

The Coastal Fire Centre recorded around 800 lightning strikes hitting Vancouver Island on Wednesday, before 3 p.m. which sparked at least 10 wildfires.

Gordon Robinson, fire information officer with the fire centre says it may be possible that more wildfires will be spotted in the coming days.

“We counted something like 800 strikes across the fire center,” Robinson said. “It’s very possible that we’ll see more [fire] starts from the lightning strikes if it hit the ground or a tree or something like that, there may be kind of a slow smoulder for up to a few days, before it flares up into anything that someone might see it and report it.”

He says it is likely there will be more lightning on the north Island and on the mainland this week, which the fire centre will be keeping an eye on for potential fires.

Around 800 lightning strikes is not an unusually high number for thunder storms on the Island, but Robinson says one storm sparking 10 fires is notable.

All the wildfires on Vancouver Island are currently classified as spot fires, which are fires under one hectare, and there are initial fire crews attending to them. They are all currently classified as out of control.

Robinson says most of the fires are in remote areas, but there is one that is three kilometres southwest of Bamfield, and another near Nitinat Lake — where people and structures are nearby — that crews are attending.

The Island currently has fire restrictions in place due to the dry conditions and risk of wildfire, and Robinson says if you see a fire or a column of smoke it’s important to call it in to report it.

“It makes a big difference for our initial attack crews to get fire reports early and be able to jump on them,” Robinson said.

Cumberland Firefighters responded to a large bonfire on the shore of Comox Lake Wednesday night where flames were seen over a metre high with people around it still throwing wood on to it.

Chief Mike Williamson told CHEK News Thursday that with lightning fires sparking up, the last thing crews need are people starting fires.

“We did get a bit of rain last night but that rain doesn’t wet the ground enough to be any good to us so the ground is still very dry, the trees are still very dry,” said Williamson. “We need to be very careful with what we’re doing in the bush.”

He added that with current widespread fire bans each person at the fire could have recieved a fine of $1,150.

To report a wildfire, you can call *5555 or call 1 800 663-5555.

Laura BroughamLaura Brougham

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