Record low for fires in B.C.
For those who thought the summer was a bit of a downer in the weather department, it will be no surprise to learn the forest-fire season was the slowest on record for B.C.
According to numbers from the province’s wildfire co-ordination centre and the Kamloops Fire Centre, there were just 623 forest fires in 2011, burning 12,210 hectares across the province.
Barring any late surge in blazes, the season will prove quieter than the previous record-low in 1954, when 711 forest fires were recorded.
The typical fire season runs from April 1 to Oct. 1
The 10-year average for fires in the province is 1,800.
A total of 334,000 hectares burned in 2010.
The weather, or lack of it for a typical summer, was the biggest factor in the first half of the season.
“We just didn’t have the amount of fire activity we typically see because we didn’t have those warm and dry conditions,” said Alyson Couch, a fire-information officer.
Fewer fires on the ground also meant less was spent to fight them.
The province spent $61 million in 2011 on fire suppression, compared to $209 million in 2010 and $403 million in 2009.
It was a similar situation in the Kamloops region.
There were 247 fires recorded this year in the Kamloops Fire Centre, while the 10-year average in the region is 540 fires and 20,000 hectares burned.
The fire season only became slightly threatening locally in early September after a trio of fire starts — one just outside the city limits near the Lafarge cement plant, a second near Falkland, between Kamloops and Vernon, and a third near the New Afton gold and copper mine west of Kamloops.
None of the fires caused structural damage.
Couch said the slow season close to home proved to be a good opportunity for crews to train and deploy to other parts of the continent.
More than 2,000 firefighters were sent to hot spots in Alberta, Ontario, the U.S. and, more recently, Manitoba.
The province recovered $27 million for those efforts.
Despite the decreaase in fires, Couch said it’s unlikely the province will change its operations for next season, adding each year is individual and unique.
Last year proved to be a difficult fire season.
There were 1,606 fires in the province in 2010, 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.