Fire analysts tracking provincial dry zones

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Tom Summer Local Journalism Initiative, Alaska Highway News
The Local Journalism Initiative (LJI) supports the creation of original civic journalism. Tom Summer works under the Alaska Highway News in Fort St. John. The content that is produced will be made available to media organizations through a Creative Commons license so that Canadians can be better informed.

Researchers with Northern Resource Canada (NRCan) are continuing to track dry zones across the country for the 2020 season. British Columbia has seen a dry pattern over the past month, which may contribute to wildfires if struck by lightning or caused by human activity.

“It’s a special case year, especially with COVID-19 restrictions on recreation an open burn restrictions, it might have an impact on the number of human caused fires,” said Richard Carr, a fire research analyst with NRCan’s Northern Forestry Centre.

“We’ve detected a fairly large area of Western Canada that may have a higher potential for fire, but it is based only temperature and precipitation,” said Carr, adding forecasts do not include human activity or lightning strikes.

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Carr followed up by noting that even with dry conditions, fires aren’t guaranteed.

“It can be a bit tricky to distinguish, there may be areas with high potential if there’s nothing there to spark them, nothing happens,” said Carr, noting that the coast and interior have both been relatively dry for the past month.

As of May 6, the BC Wildfire Service reports 110 fires have burned 570 hectares. There have been 25 fires in the Prince George Fire Centre, which covers northeast B.C., burning 160 hectares.

Human-caused fires continue to be an issue for Northeast B.C. Hudson’s Hope RCMP attended six different fires last week, with a brush fire at Geddes Bay and a burnt out Chevy Equinox found on Twelve Mile Road.

The Wildfire Service responded to eight different incidents last weekend, to a total of 58 incidents since April 1, within the Prince George Fire Centre. Five of the incidents occurred in the Dawson Creek area.

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