The Coastal Fire Centre is looking ahead to the wildfire season on Vancouver Island. (Phil McLachlan – Western News)

The Coastal Fire Centre is looking ahead to the wildfire season on Vancouver Island. (Phil McLachlan – Western News)

Coastal Fire Centre looking ahead at wildfire season on Vancouver Island

‘We’re asking people in the spring to be very careful’

Despite one fire burning on Vancouver Island near Gold River, the area’s forests came out of the winter in good shape heading into this year’s wildfire season.

According to the Coastal Fire Centre, the area didn’t start the fire season in a drought, however, the past two weeks presented warm and dry weather with low relative humidity, said Donna MacPherson, fire information officer with the organization.

“The surface of the forest … is the area without roots and is full of branches, twigs and dead leaves. It hasn’t hit the ‘green-up’ where weeds and grasses are up yet and creates a shelter over the dryer debris, and shelters it from the sun and wind,” she explained. “Right now, we’re in a moderate fire rating danger for Vancouver Island.”

On April 19, a small fire – 4.5 hectares – began on steep slopes about 70 km west of Courtenay. The cause is under investigation, but the centre has confirmed that it was caused by human activity and crews are on scene.

Currently, the long-range forecast is calling for an average fire season and MacPherson is hopeful the season will start “well-hydrated as we go back to seasonal weather. Typically June is cooler and wet and it holds us through the dryer months.”

RELATED: Wildfire burning in remote area near Gold River

As the unusually warm temperatures are set to change to more seasonal conditions, the centre is welcoming rain that is predicted to blanket the area for the next week.

“Right now, we don’t have any (fire) prohibitions in place. People might be surprised how dry it is. We’re asking people in the spring to be very careful – that means if you do have a fire, you ensure you have a means of putting it out, keeping it small and in control, if it’s windy you put it out, and when you leave, the area is cold to the touch – that’s the key. If you just put water on a fire it quickly gets evaporated and you can’t just walk away.”

Looking towards the summer, McPherson added the centre is aware that more people will likely be recreating outdoors due to COVID-19 travel restrictions. She encourages as many people to enjoy the outdoors but to do it safely.

“We understand getting to a forest is good for your soul. There are a lot of reservations in parks and they are often full, and there is naturally spillover onto Crown land.”

She hopes more people will enjoy the forest this summer, but cautions if using fire, to be careful and respectful. As the forest begins to dry out, the very thing people are enjoying can be the very thing putting people at risk, she noted. With warmer weather set to arrive in the next few months, more crews will also come online.

“We’re very aware of the weather, and we’re asking the public not to give a fire a home run.”

For more news from Vancouver Island and beyond delivered daily into your inbox, please click here.



photos@comoxvalleyrecord.com

Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

Dan McCauley put his carpentry skills to work to create this new bench in downtown Chemainus from blowdown wood. (Photo by Don Bodger)
Former carpenter spruces up bench with Douglas fir

Blowdown wood utilized to create a polished sitting space downtown

Municipality of North Cowichan.
Electrical contract awarded for RCMP building

Council meeting recap from May 5 includes Island Health delegation on wellness and recovery centre

Nanaimo-North Cowichan MLA Doug Routley looks at electric school bus acquisition as driving Cowichan forward. (Photo submitted)
New electric school bus for Cowichan district

Higher price offset by reduced repair and maintenance costs compared to diesel

Cowichan-Malahat-Langford MP Alistair MacGregor. (Photo by Bernard Thibodeau)
MacGregor introduces bill to mark Canadian Armed Forces Members Day Oct. 22

Objective to honour those who’ve lost their lives in non-combat roles on Canadian soil

The Chemainus Health Care Auxiliary Thrift Shop remains closed for the time being. (File photo by Don Bodger)
Healthcare Auxiliaries Day marks 76 years on Saturday, May 8

Chemainus Thrift Shop situation will be revisited Tuesday

(The Canadian Press)
Trudeau won’t say whether Canada supports patent waiver for COVID-19 vaccines

‘Canada is at the table to help find a solution’

RCMP are looking for information on an alleged shooting attempt near an elementary school in Smithers March 10. (Phil McLachlan/Capital News/Stock)
UPDATE: Man killed in brazen daylight shooting at Vancouver airport

Details about the police incident are still unknown

Pieces of nephrite jade are shown at a mine site in northwestern B.C. in July 2019. THE CANADIAN PRESS/HO-Tahltan Central Government MANDATORY CREDIT
Indigenous nation opposes jade mining in northwestern B.C.

B.C.’s Mines Act requires operators to prepare a plan to protect cultural heritage resources

The body of Brenda Ware, 35, was found along Highway 93 in Kootenay National Park on Thursday, May 6, 2021. (RCMP handout)
RCMP ask for tips after woman’s body found in Kootenay National Park

Brenda Ware was found along Highway 93 in the park, 54 kilometres north of the town of Radium

Cannabis bought in British Columbia (Ashley Wadhwani/Black Press Media)
Is it time to start thinking about greener ways to package cannabis?

Packaging suppliers are still figuring eco-friendly and affordable packaging options that fit the mandates of Cannabis Regulations

People pass the red hearts on the COVID-19 Memorial Wall mourning those who have died, opposite the Houses of Parliament on the Embankment in London, Wednesday, April 7, 2021. On May 3, the British government announced that only one person had died of COVID-19 in the previous 24 hours. THE CANADIAN PRESS/AP-Kirsty Wigglesworth
For a view of a COVID-19 future, Canadians should look across the pond

Britain, like Canada, is one of the only countries in the world to delay second doses for several months

Edmonton Oilers’ Connor McDavid (97) celebrates his 100th point this season with Leon Draisaitl (29) against the Vancouver Canucks during second period NHL action in Edmonton on Saturday, May 8, 2021.THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jason Franson
Edmonton superstar McDavid hits 100-point mark as Oilers edge Canucks 4-3

NHL scoring leader needs just 53 games to reach century mark

Nuns of Mother Teresa’s Missionaries of Charity, carry some of her relics during a vigil of prayer in preparation for the canonization of Mother Teresa in the St. John in Latheran Basilica at the Vatican, Friday, Sept. 2, 2016. In which city did she do much of her charitable work? (AP Photo/Gregorio Borgia)
QUIZ: How much do you know about these motherhood issues?

In honour of Mother’s Day, take this 10-question quiz

Most Read