News » Whistler

Fire danger rising, but still below average

Rating could move into Extreme by next week

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It’s been a quiet season so far for the Coastal Fire Centre, which includes Vancouver Island, the Sunshine Coast and the Sea to Sky corridor. However, that could change if the region continues to see warm, dry weather – and there is no rain in the immediate forecast.

The current fire rating is High, but could move into Extreme by next week.

"Overall this year has been fairly slow," said Fire Information Officer Heidi Taylor. "The last two years were really busy, so I’d say we’re somewhere in the middle in terms of an average."

So far 82 fires have been reported in the Coastal Fire Centre, burning 63 hectares. By way of comparison the coast saw 189 fires at this time last year, burning more than 600 hectares.

According to Taylor, all 82 fires are person-caused. While part of the reason is the absence of lightning along the coast, she said people need to be more careful in the outdoors.

Last Thursday, July 28, the Coastal Fire Centre imposed a backyard fire ban for Whistler, and although campfires are still allowed they are urging caution. Take the weather and wind into consideration before lighting a fire, as floating embers can trigger other fires. Never leave a fire unattended, always keep water and tools like shovels on hand, and don’t leave a fire until you are sure that it’s out.

The provincial fire count is still below average, with 650 fires reported, although there has been a pronounced upswing in fire activity in recent weeks in the Interior.

The Coastal Fire Centre re-evaluates the risk on a daily basis, and issues bans accordingly. For example, an Extreme hazard rating doesn’t necessarily trigger a ban on campfires or certain types of construction, said Taylor.

"The important thing for people to be aware is that there is a risk, and the risk is going to go up the longer we go without substantial rain," she said.

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