Drought conditions raise threat of new fall wildfires on Vancouver Island

Drought conditions raise threat of new fall wildfires on Vancouver Island
Smoke is pictured over Nanaimo on Sept. 15, 2023.

Kyle Palmer discovered a startling scene while walking through the dry trails of Parksville’s Little Mountain to photograph wildlife on Friday.

“The thing that really struck us was how dry everything was, and almost with the leaves and the crackle, you can almost hear it. Hear it as though it were drying out before your very ears,” said Palmer, a Nanaimo resident.

Drought conditions continued Friday as a thick haze and smell of smoke swept over Nanaimo, that according to the BC Wildfire Service, is likely coming up from wildfires in Washington State.

Though 25 wildfires are currently also burning on Vancouver Island, 14 of those are listed as out of control, and BC Wildfire fire information officer Kimberly Kelly said the threat of new fire starts was far from over.

“Certainly we are still seeing these elevated drought conditions. We have not seen significant precipitation since almost last spring,” Kelly told CHEK News.

“This drought condition began last fall, we had less than forecasted or normalized rainfall over the winter, through the spring, the summer and now into fall again,” she said.

Yet, the first day of fall is due in just a week’s time. Salmon were filling the shallow pools of the Englishman River Friday making their journey home to spawn in water so low the huge fish were visible from the rocks.

“And it’s so hot today and yet it’s the middle of September,” said Palmer.

Still, no substantial rains are appearing in BC Wildfire’s long term forecasting, said Kelly.

“Which is why it’s so important that the public is diligent with their campfire bans and when they’re recreating in the back country,” said Kelly.

Temperatures are forecast to rise into the 20’s through the weekend. Campfire and open fire bans are in effect across the Coastal Fire region, with only the Haida Gwaii area exempt.

RELATED: B.C. facing wildfires through fall after hot, dry summer

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