Extreme threat: heat wave increases forest fire concerns in Nanaimo region

By Ian Holmes
July 24, 2018 - 6:00pm

The Naniamo area has one of the highest fire danger ratings in B.C.BC WIldfire Service

Nanaimo Fire Rescue asst. chief Brad Wood said current conditions are prime for fires like this one behind the Visitor Information Centre along the Nanaimo Parkway in Sept, 2017.Ian Holmes/NanaimoNewsNOW

NANAIMO — Officials are increasingly on edge as the Nanaimo region has among the highest forest fire threats in the entire province.

The BC Wildfire Service has expanded the extreme fire threat rating to nearly the entire mid and south Vancouver Island area, as a prolonged heat wave grips the region.

Provincial fire information officer Donna McPherson told NanaimoNewsNOW dried forest floor fuels are deepening.

“That area underneath becomes quite parched. There is a lot of material that can burn underground,” McPherson said.

She said people enjoying outdoor activities need to be extra vigilant.

“They need to stretch their mind a little bit and think about what activity that they're doing that could be causing a forest fire.”

ATV's, motorbikes and target shooting and cigarette butts are immediate risks that come to mind, McPherson said.

Hot and dry conditions are expected for the next several weeks on the mid island, according to McPherson.

A sweeping open burning ban is in place throughout the Coastal Fire Centre Region, with the exception being a thin strip known as the fog zone spanning Vancouver Island's west side.

McPherson said 76 of the 106 fires in the Coastal Fire Centre zone this year have been person caused.

There has already been one sizable forest fire this season in the Nanaimo Lakes area.

Nanaimo Fire Rescue assistant chief Brad Wood said there have been occasional bark mulch and brush fires locally this summer, but thankfully not anymore than usual.

“The City and the fire department have been really trying to get out the message via social media on the dangers and the conditions that we're experiencing right now.”

 

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