Wildfire official urges vigilance
A change in weather could offer British Columbians a break from an otherwise ferocious start to this year's wildfire season, but a provincial official says a few days of rain isn't necessarily enough to hit the reset button on weeks of soaring temperatures and parched conditions.
“It does appear that we've got a bit of a temporary reprieve from the current situation ... but we are still very early in the summer and the weather is fickle and changing daily,” said Kevin Skrepnek, a B.C. Wildfire Service spokesman. “We need to ensure that people aren't getting complacent as a result of this rain.”
This shift in weather is expected to continue, said Skrepnek, with cooler temperatures and scattered rain forecast across the province over the coming week.
A campfire ban remains in place provincewide as more than 250 fires rage across B.C., almost 50 of which began on Saturday.
So far in 2015, 1,065 fires have consumed nearly 2,800 square kilometres across the province - a substantial jump from this time last year, when 462 fires had burned a mere 200 square kilometres.
About 2,400 personnel are busy fighting the flames - whether on the fire line or in support positions - more than 1,000 of which are contract workers.
B.C. has called in about 100 personnel from outside the province, including from Ontario, Quebec and the Maritimes.
On Monday, 52 Australian firefighters are scheduled to arrive into B.C. to help with fire relief efforts, while another contingent of Down Under personnel will soon show up to assist in other Western Canadian provinces.
The provincial government has also signed a one-month contract to use the Martin Mars water bomber, a veteran firefighting plane based in Port Alberni, B.C.
“The Mars is an iconic aircraft,” said Skrepnek about the aged air tanker, which can unload 27,000 litre payload in a single flyby. “It has a somewhat limited mission profile (but) in the right situation it is an incredibly effective tool.”