Summer’s damp, cool start is attributed to why the area is seeing fewer wildfires than this time last year. The Elk Valley falls under the Cranbrook Fire Zone, which has seen a total of 30 fires as of Aug. 2, which is three fires behind the 10-year average, according to Southeast Fire Station’s Fire Information Officer, Karlie Shaughnessy.
“Then 10-year average for the Cranbrook Fire Zone for this time of year is 33 fires, so we are just slightly below the average,” she said.
The Cranbrook Fire Zone’s total makes up more than a third of the wildfires that the Southeast Fire Centre has seen this year.
“Just in the South East Fire Centre, which is the area I look after, we have had 82 wildfires that have burned 329 hectares,” said Shaughnessy. “Of the 82 fires, 46 were lightning caused and 36 were person caused.”
Person caused wildfires can come from a variety of sources, which is why much of B.C. has fire restrictions in place. Residents in the Cranbrook Fire Zone can only have Category 1 fires at this point in time.
“The only type of fire people can have is a campfire that measures under half a metre high and half a metre wide. Everything else is prohibited, that means Category 2, Category 3, fireworks, burning barrels, anything else,” said Shaughnessy.
It is regular for fire bans to be in effect during the warmest and driest seasons of the year. During the long weekend, many Category 1 fires were left unattended throughout the province.
“We had a number of abandoned fires throughout B.C. on the long weekend. We had 32 in total. We are urging the public to be more careful with their campfires,” said Shaughnessy. “[Fires] should never be left unattended and should be completely out before people leave the area.”