Fire danger rating remains extreme

NANAIMO: Warm, dry weather leaves no relief in sight for crews monitoring parched Island forests.

Nanaimo is sitting smack in the middle of an area blanketed by an extreme fire danger rating with no relief on the horizon.

Nanaimo’s fire danger rating hasn’t changed since early August and with little rain and temperatures expected to jump back up into the mid 20s, there is no relief in the forecast.

“It’s going to be cool, but by Wednesday our forecasters are telling us it’s going to rebound to hot and dry, mid to high 20s and no rain in sight,” said Marg Drysdale, Coastal Fire Centre spokeswoman on Monday.

The area that will remain under an extreme risk of wildfire outbreaks extends from just south of Courtenay and includes all of the east side of the Island to its southern tip.

There have been few human-caused fires this summer around Nanaimo, but people need to continue to be extra cautious.

Drysdale said people tend to drop their guard when children go back to school and fall approaches.

“Our concern is that people do not understand the danger, simply because they think it’s fall and they don’t understand that we’re still in wildfire season,” Drysdale said. “It’s not entirely unusual for the Coastal Fire Centre to have a fire season in September, but it is quite unusual that we’re saying ‘extreme’ at this time of year – extreme and ongoing extreme.”

Drysdale said there is no sign of any rain or cooler temperatures that could lower the wildfire risk anytime soon.

Fire season on B.C.’s south coast tends to be offset from the rest of the province because of local moisture levels and vegetation species, which take a long time to dry out, but remain dry until the coast gets a lot of rain.

“We were doing really well up to about three weeks into August, but since the third week in August we’ve had a lot of human-caused fires,” Drysdale said.

“Nanaimo has been fairly decent. Surprisingly, there have been no issues there, but throughout the rest of the Coastal Fire Centre we’ve had a real spurt of human-caused fires that we’d really like not to have had.”

The only wildfire of note currently burning on the Island is at Wolf River in Strathcona Park near Buttle Lake.

It now covers 150 hectares and will be allowed to burn, Drysdale said.

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