Lightning strikes result in more than 18 new wildfires on Vancouver Island


A video sent to CHEK News by Diana Jolly captured the moment a bolt of lightning struck Cortez Island.

It’s part of a rare thunderstorm that moved through Vancouver Island and the mid-coast earlier this week.

The system ignited new wildfires up and down the Island according to Kimberly Kelly, community engagement specialist with the BC Wildfire Service on Tuesday.

“Of the 18-starts from yesterday’s lightning event, 16 are out of control,” she said Tuesday. “One is being held, and one is under control. There are only three fires that are in proximity to any community. They are all small.”

A whooping 2,600 lightning strikes hit Vancouver Island and the mid-coast between Monday and Tuesday morning.

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The BC Wildfire Service is monitoring most of the new fires including the Mead Creek fire near Cowichan Lake and the King Creek fire west of Sooke. Both are less than a quarter hectare in size.

“Most of these are considered to be back country fires,” Kelly said. “They are not threatening any values. They are burning in extreme terrain.”

Armel Castellan, meteorologist with Environment and Climate Change Canada, said Victoria sees very little lightning in general due to the influence of the Pacific Ocean.

“We see on average 3.6 days of the year for Victoria to see lightning in that radius. It’s excessively rare,” Castellan said.

Along with the lightning, periods of heavy rain fell on parts of the island, along with cooler temperatures.

But it’s not enough.

“Yes, it feels like meteorological fall is around the corner, which it is for September 1st. But as we know, wildfire behavior doesn’t just turn off. We do need some big, season-ending precipitation, which we do not have in the forecast,” Castellan said.

“We have [a] severe drought condition right now that is persistent and has been building since the fall,” said Kelly. “So we have seen some precipitation with this system coming through. It really is not enough to get into the ground.”

WATCH: Severe thunderstorm warning issued for parts of Vancouver Island


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