Over 20 per cent of wildfires in B.C. human-caused this year

By Greg Fry
August 28, 2018 - 5:32pm Updated: August 29, 2018 - 8:52am

KAMLOOPS — New numbers from the BC Wildfire Service show the public has played a big role in making this year the second worst wildfire season in provincial history.

Fire Information Officer Ryan Turcot says, since the season began April 1, crews have responded to 2,012 wildfires altogether — 444 of which are believed to be human-caused.

"Which, in essence, were preventable fires that didn't have to happen," he says. "So, if you put that into percentages that would be approximately 22 per cent of all the wildfires we responded to this year."

Though that number may seem high,Turcot says it "isn't an anomaly compared to past fire seasons," though he says it's still a blow to firefighting efforts.

"Because it is a preventable wildfire that didn't need to happen, especially in times of heightened activity like what we're seeing now, it can potentially divert critical resources away from the naturally-caused fires that we can't prevent."

While he says it's too early to give a specific case breakdown of human-caused fires this year, he says they're typically sparked by a number of factors.

"Some are more obvious, things like campfires, smoking, ATVs. Other causes that people wouldn't guess," he says.

"Mechanical or equipment-caused fires; that includes industrial activities like cutting and grinding, hot metal fragments from machinery, stuff like that. Fires can also be caused by electrical infrastructure, things like engines and exhaust, structure fires, vehicle fires, accident fires, the list goes on and on."

As of Tuesday at 5:00 p.m., Turcot says there are still 536 wildfires burning province-wide, meaning the end of the season is a ways off yet.

"We're starting to transition into fall like temperatures though it will still take a prolonged period of rain to really bring meaningful reprieve to this fire season."

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