Fire season has arrived
The heat is on.
That’s the word from Kamloops-area fire officials, who have been kept busy in recent weeks battling spring wildfires in and around the city.
“What we’re seeing is lots of dead materials on the ground,” said Kamloops Fire Rescue (KFR) Capt. Sheldon Guertin.
“Because we get high winds — and we haven’t had any precipitation, so we haven’t had that green-up — we can see some grass fires.”
And, see grass fires they have.
On April 3, what started as a small spot fire quickly grew into a seven-hectare grass fire near the G&M Trailer Park on the north side of the Thompson River, burning at one point to within 25 feet of homes.
During the Easter weekend, firefighters responded to a 10-hectare blaze near Knutsford.
The G&M blaze is believed to have been sparked by kids playing with matches, while the Knutsford fire began accidentally as an area rancher worked on his farming equipment.
Guertin said KFR’s bush trucks have been back in service for the summer season since last month and crews are constantly monitoring weather forecasts to decide how to respond to calls.
At the B.C. Forest Service’s Kamloops office at Fulton Field, provincial staffers are also keeping a close eye on Mother Nature.
Fire information officer Lindsay Carnes said provincial crews have so far responded to a 14 wildfires this year in the Kamloops Fire Zone — the largest of which was a 10-hectare blaze near Lillooett in the Fraser Canyon.
“Around this time of year, because most of our fires come from backyard burns, it’s really important to be diligent when burning,” Carnes said.
“We’re in a window between the snow melting and the grass greening up, where we’re in a risk for grass fires.
“Once green-up has occurred, then we’re out of that window a little bit until summer.”
Guertin also urged landowners to use caution when burning — and, of course, to get a permit.
“If you’re going to have a fire of any type in the City of Kamloops, you need to have a permit,” he said.
“Bonfire, cooking fire, controlled burn — if you don’t have a permit, you’re going to have a $500 fine.
“And, if the fire gets away from you, you’re going to be responsible for all the extra costs.”
Guertin said permits are granted by KFR, but require a property size of at least one acre.
Carnes, meanwhile, said it’s tough to predict what the fire season will be like until summer arrives.
“Until then, we’re gearing up as if it will be a busy season,” she said.
“But, only time will tell.”
To get real-time updates on wildfires in British Columbia, go online here.