Warm weather brings wildfire concern

By Tanya Cronin
March 31, 2016 - 4:35pm Updated: April 1, 2016 - 10:48am

KAMLOOPS — While everyone is enjoying the warm start to spring, the combination of fast rising temperatures and very little rain isn't a welcome sight for everyone.  

At the Kamloops Fire Centre, officials are keeping their eyes on the back country. 

WATCH: Full story by Tanya Cronin

While it's too early to predict how the fire season will play out, fire experts are asking people not to take any chances, even this early in the season. 

It's only heading into the begnning of April, but the sun is shining and temperatures are soaring. Already, wildfire officials are gearing up for the start of the forest fire season.

"Fires can always start at this time, it's always going to be dangerous when there's dry underbrush in the area, that's why we're asking people to be very careful," says Max Birkner, Kamloops Fire Information Officer.

Over the past few days, Kamloops has seen a significant shift in the weather. The snow has melted, revealing dry grasses, which means spring burning has begun. But residents are being urged to exercise caution when cleaning up their yards, and have enough tools on hand.

"We're asking them to have enough people, to have water, to basically build a fire guard around a fire, so they can conduct smaller burns around a fire, around the area where they're going to be conducting a larger burn first, to clear out some of that dangerous combustable material."

"Even one human caused wildfire is one too many, this is the time of year when preventing them really matters," says Ryan Turcot, Provincial Fire Information Officer. 

A strong ridge of high pressure has settled in right across BC. The effects of an early spring drying trend is being felt in the northern half of the province. The Cariboo Fire Centre has responded to 15 wildfires so far, two of which popped Thursday, prompting burning bans to be put in place. 

"On April 4th, the Cariboo Fire Centre will be implementing category 2 and category 3 prohibitions for their fire centre, so that means any fire larger than a campfire will be prohibited at that time," says Turcot.

The mercury has hit unseasonably warm highs this week. There hasn't been much precipitation recently, and Environment Canada says that's not likely to change anytime soon. 

"Taking a look at the month of March, precipitation was 14.8 millimetres in the Kamloops area, normal is 12.8 but of course most of that precipitation fell in the earlier part of the month, so we are still going to be looking at dry conditions through the beginning part of April," says Lisa Coldwells, Environment Canada Forecaster.

Perfect for anyone heading out camping or doing outdoor activities, just be careful. Last year's wildfire crews were busier than normal, and officials are hoping to avoid what could be another volatile season. 

"If you're going to have a campfire, that's permitted, but bear in mind that you have to be very careful with your fire and ensure it's totally out before you leave the campsite," says Birkner.

Free legal aid being offered to low income earners