Fire hazard high, heading t o extreme

  • Jun. 23, 2004 8:00 a.m.

The fire hazard on the islands is high and will soon be extreme after 12 days-or more- of sunny, hot weather this month.
The Northwest Fire Centre is banning backyard and industrial fires throughout the northwest including the islands. Campfires at campsites or on the beach are still okay as long as they are contained in a rock or metal ring, says Brian Eccles of the Ministry of Forests, but the islands are moving toward a total ban if the dry weather continues. And it looks like this spell of hot, dry weather will continue he says, with no rain expected through the weekend.
Lightning strikes caused a number of fires in the north this week, says Mr. Eccles, and the islands fire crews have been sent to the mainland to help put the fires out, leaving the islands short staffed.
Major logging companies on the islands were advised to put out their fires on Tuesday morning, says Mr. Eccles. Some are choosing to shut down. “They’re doing what they have to do to keep the area safe,” he says.
In the last 30 years, Mr. Eccles says he recalls maybe six years with conditions similar to these.
People need to be cautious, says Mr. Eccles. “It’s our resource and everyone needs to pitch in.”
Last Saturday-Hospital Day-Tlell weather watcher John Davies recorded 28 degrees Celcius in Tlell. “It was possibly higher in the inlet,” says Mr. Davies.
The highest temperature recorded in June was 30.6 degrees Celsius on June 19, 1958, and the highest recorded for the islands was 32.2 degrees Celsius on July 27, 1971, says Mr. Davies.
Rainfall so far in June is 32 mm. This compares to 86 mm in June last year and 76.4 mm in June 2002, says Mr. Davies. Average June rainfall for the islands between 1961 and 1990 was 59.9 mm according to Environment Canada.
This dry spell follows hard on the heels of a sunny dry May that had 20 days of sun and only 39.9 mm of rain-considerably less than usual for that month.
The dry weather will end with a good rainstorm eventually, predicts Mr. Eccles, but in the meantime people have to be careful. To report smoke or fire, call the district office at 559-6200 or the Northwest Fire Center at 1-800-663-5555.

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