Recalling fire season that never ignited
As summer turns to fall, the forest-fire season is quietly being extinguished.
Many of the province’s contracted firefighters have gone home for the season and campfire bans around the region have been lifted.
“We’re over the worst part of the season,” said Mary-Ann Leach, an information officer with the Kamloops Fire Centre.
However, the fire-danger rating remains high in the Kamloops area and an open-burning ban is still in place for now.
Forestry officials are still reminding people to be careful in the outdoors during the last few weeks of the camping season.
If no major fires break out in the coming weeks, this year will likely go down in the books as the fire season that never really started.
As of Sept. 24, there were only 580 wildfires in the province — less than one-third of the 10-year average of 1,800 and 1,000 fewer than in 2010.
Only 12,000 hectares have been lost to fire, compared to 334,000 hectares in 2010.
To date in the fire centre, there have been 236 reported fires — burning just 561 hectares.
The 10-year average is 540 fires and 20,000 hectares.
Fewer fires means more money stays in the province’s coffers.
British Columbia has spent $56 million in 2011 so far to fight forest fires, but nearly half of that amount has been spent sending local firefighters to help out in other parts of the country — expenses that will be reimbursed.
More than 1,700 firefighters were sent to hot spots in Alberta and, more recently, Ontario this season.
The government has recovered $24 million for its out-of-province contribution.
Alyson Couch, an information officer with the province’s wildfire co-ordination centre, noted the government has extended contracts for firefighters in the past right into fall, but it feels there is adequate resources in place to deal with the rest of the season.
The province spent $209 million fighting fires in 2010, about half of the $403 million it spent in 2009.
Last year proved to be a difficult fire season.
There were 1,606 fires in the province, a sharp decline from the 2009 fire season, which saw slightly more than 3,000 fires burn the landscape.
However, fewer fires didn’t mean crews weren’t busy.
More than 334,000 hectares were burned in 2010, compared to 225,000 in 2009.
Much of the damage was concentrated in the Cariboo-Chilcotin region.