Wildfire season heating up in Southern Interior

A wildfire started in BC is now burning in Washington State.

A wildfire started in BC is now burning in Washington State.

The permitted fire was started by a private landowner near Chopaka but has now grown to about 80 hectares in size.

Kayla Pepper, communications specialist for the Southern Interior Wildfire Management Branch said since April 1 the fire was being monitored. Wildfire Management suspected the fire was getting beyond the intended area of burn and crews and a helicopter were sent in to respond over the weekend and into early this week.

“We had eyes on the fire everyday. We were monitoring it closely,” Pepper said.

Wildfire Management crews are working with crews in Washington to put out the fire.

At this point it’s mainly a “smouldering grass fire with some open flame,” she said.

“The vast majority of the fire is in Canadian borders.”

The fire caused no risk to people or structures.

Crews were working in steep terrain, high temperatures and low relative humidity conditions. They are now just mopping up.

Over the weekend crews were also called out to Ashnola Fire Service Road southwest of Keremeos.

A 13.4 hectare fire also caused by human error. It was discovered Saturday.

Crews attended and were faced with steep inoperable terrain. Natural barriers helped put out the snow as the fire ran into rock face.

“On top of the fire above where it was burning there was even snow left,” she said.

Fires at this point in April are well below the 10-year average. At this point 12 fires have been detected. The 10-year average in the same time period is 23.

Although the stat seems great it could be attributed to warm weather in March meaning more people were doing burns that month.

Activity in March was double the 10-year average stats. This March, 14 fires were reported in the Interior at the Kamloops detachment opposed to the usual seven.

“Warm weather could mean people were out earlier doing things they usually do in April,” she said.

The no burn will be in effect May 15 for grass burns, brush burns, barrel burns, fireworks and burning lanterns.

Outside campfires will still be allowed unless otherwise notified.

Pepper reminds anyone planning on doing an outside burn to check with their local authorities. If local authorities don’t have a fire management plan they must obey the wildfire branch management regulations, which state there must be adequate water, hand tools on site to control the fire. A burn pile cannot exceed three metres wide by two metres high unless the burner obtains a registration number.

A fire must never be left unattended.

“What we have observed especially this year on windy days, is that when someone isn’t watching is the time that most likely fires will escape,” she said.