Friday’s lightning storms on Vancouver Island sparked nine new wildfires and more may be on the way, according to the Coastal Fire Centre.
The fire centre tells CHEK News that the new fires are currently being assessed by crews and are estimated to be under a hectare, with most measuring 0.001 hectares and one sitting at 0.03 hectares.
According to Coastal Fire Centre information officer Christi Howes, while none of the fires are expected to grow or challenge firefighting efforts, more are anticipated to emerge.
That’s because lightning-caused fires can smoulder for hours or even days before they appear, Howes explained in an interview.
“Crews have been assigned to these incidents and are actively assessing them,” she said. “The risk remains over the next couple of days for the thunderstorms and dry lightning, so they will be patrolling the areas we know of right now where these fires are occurring.”
The B.C. Wildfire Dashboard shows most new fires are located within Strathcona Park, west of the Comox Valley and Campbell River areas.
On Friday afternoon, Environment Canada issued severe thunderstorm warnings and watches for both east and inland Vancouver Island as meteorologists tracked a cluster of storms near Buttle Lake and Upper Campbell River.
The warnings and watches were eventually rescinded.
But according to Howes, the storms weren’t just restricted to the Island and also sparked spot fires in the Fraser Valley, Sunshine Coast and Mid-Coast zones.
The Coastal Fire Centre says it will continue to patrol the region’s lightning-strike areas by foot and helicopter on Saturday to help fire crews respond and determine if any other fires have emerged.
There are currently 191 active wildfires in the province, with lightning being the suspected cause in 147 fires. People are suspected of having caused 15, and 29 have an unknown cause.
There are six fires of note, with 30 listed as out of control on the B.C. Wildfire Dashboard.
Howe’s now reminding the public to download the BC Wildfire Service app to ensure they can report a wildfire when spotting one. People can also report a fire by calling *5555 or 1-800-663-5555.