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Lightning strikes start a dozen fires

Fire service expects more to flare up, urges people to report smoke sightings

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There may be more fires starting up on Rainbow Mountain and surrounding areas today, even after helicopters, air tankers and initial attack crews contained 12 fires started by Thursday's lightning strikes.


Ellie Dupont, information officer for the Coastal Fire Service, said they expect more fires to start today as the area dries, and they urge anyone seeing smoke to report it immediately.


The number to call is 1-800-663-5555 or *5555 on a cellphone.


"Crews are ready (to attack fires) and it's very dry, so get the calls in early," Dupont said.


The lightning storm that rolled through the Whistler area Thursday afternoon produced a dozen fires, but the rain that came with the storm probably helped keep the number of fires down.


The first reports of smoke came in at about 5 p.m. Thursday. They were confirmed by the Whistler fire department and helicopters were dispatched shortly after. Air tankers were also called in.


Initial attack crews were on scene Friday to look for hot spots and make sure the fires were not burning under ground.


A Type II incident command team coordinated the response. A Type II incident involves 50 people or less.


Temperatures are expected to soar over the weekend and the fire hazard rating has been at Extreme for about a week. Anyone entering the forests, or in the forest interface, is urged to use extreme caution.


Outside fires are banned in the entire south coast region and open flames, including briquette and wood barbecues, are prohibited in provincial parks. Limits have also been imposed on construction work in the forest interface.

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