Fire danger rises with heatwave as crews tackle wildfire near Port Alberni

Fire danger rises with heatwave as crews tackle wildfire near Port Alberni

An unusual dry spell and sudden heat wave have experts worried this year might be a bad one for wildfires.

Already on Vancouver Island, crews are battling forest fires. Four have broken out so far this season on the Island, and 14 in the Coastal Fire Centre. The latest sparked on Thunder Mountain, northwest of Port Alberni, Wednesday night.

Twelve firefighters from BC Wildfire gained control of the fire by Thursday afternoon, but according to the BC Wildfire Service, the fire was human-caused, so officials urged people to be careful in the woods since no campfire restrictions are in place yet.

But conditions were changing fast around Vancouver Island Thursday, with drying winds and extreme heat on the way, officials are on alert and expecting to raise the fire danger rating soon.

“It’s the finer fuels that dry out first,” said Julia Caranci, a Fire Information Officer at the Coastal Fire Centre in Errington.

“This is somewhat unusual for this time of year and we are going to see drying as a result. So we are going to see what we call outflow winds and those will bring dryer winds from the Interior out on the coast.”

In a release on Friday, the Coastal Fire Centre said so far in 2022 there have been 14 wildfires in the region with seven hectares burned between April 1 and May 12. Across the province there have been 182 wildfires, burning 11,742 hectares.

“We are now seeing some more moderate fire danger ratings appear in some areas, including the very southern tip of Vancouver Island and the Northern tip of Vancouver Island and as I say, we can expect that trend to continue over the weekend,” said Caranci.

According to Environment Canada, temperatures are forecast to climb well over 30 degrees Celsius in some parts of the Island in the upcoming heat wave.

WATCH: Heat wave forecast for Vancouver Island, province, through the weekend

Skye RyanSkye Ryan

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