As a cold front sweeps through British Columbia on Thanksgiving Monday, the Coastal Fire Centre says crews fighting forest fires on Vancouver Island are ready to deal with any potential flare-ups.
Environment Canada issued a special weather statement Sunday warning of winds of 40 km/h gusting to 60 km/h throughout most of Vancouver Island, including Port Alberni and the Cowichan Valley, where two out-of-control wildfires continue to burn.
The shift comes on the heels of unseasonably warm and sunny conditions that have seen temperature records broken in many regions and forest fires sprout up throughout the province.
That has resulted in the BC Wildfire Service warning that the wind could stoke forest fires, especially without much rain expected to relieve drought conditions in many regions.
Julia Caranci, fire information officer with the Coastal Fire Centre, said though the risk has increased, crews are ready.
“We’ve increased our preparatory [measures] in light of that fact, which means we’ll be having all of our active fires manned and we’ll be insuring that we protect the containment lines that we have established on our fires,”
Ken Dosanjh, Meteorologist for Environment and Climate Change Canada, said with the current conditions, the potential for broken branches and fallen trees is much greater.
“Trees are water stressed at this point and as trees get water stressed they become dry, they become brittle. So the concern is as we have the cold front that’s going to move through today could cause branches to break,” he said.
There are 163 wildfires burning, including a 151-hectare fire outside Grand Forks, B.C., with 47 firefighters battling it.
Fortunately, with shorter days and cooler overnight temperatures in comparison to summer months, firefighters are having an easier time getting the blazes under control
“The days are much shorter and there is not that much time for things to warm up during the day like they do in august. So fires, even though we’re having quite a few starts because it’s so dry, we’re not seeing that same aggressive behaviour or that fast rate of spread.”
Unfortunately, though, the dry weather is expected to stick around for the remainder of this week, with no major precipitation in sight in the near future.
With files from The Canadian Press