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Prince George thunderstorm watch causes increased wildfire risk during heatwave

‘Crews are on standby and are prepared to respond when it is safe to do so’
kam lightning
(via Trev Kuehn)

As Prince George continues through a record-breaking heatwave, the region is now under a severe thunderstorm watch, which could pose potential wildfire risk due to the potential for lightning.

Environment Canada issued a thunderstorm watch today (June 30) saying conditions are favourable for the development of dangerous thunderstorms that may be capable of producing damaging wind gusts, large hail and heavy rain.

“As of right now we are seeing record-breaking temperatures as they have been sweeping across the province. It is hot and dry everywhere which is causing high to extreme fire danger,” said Hannah Harris, fire information officer with the BC Wildfire Service (BCWS).

“We are expecting potentially severe thunderstorms across the area today bringing frequent lightning so the fire behaviour is unpredictable so it’s the best time to start preparing for anything.”

Harris said the extreme fire behaviour poses a risk to ground personnel and aviation resources. Due to current wildfire activity and rapid growth, crews are on standby and are prepared to respond when it is safe to do so.  

British Columbia is also currently under a province-wide campfire ban, which includes category 2 and three open fires as well as fireworks.

Harris said BCWS is reminding people to please be extremely cautious with their fire usage or when participating in activities outdoors.

“We do have crews and resources on standby so it’s very important not to cause any human-caused fires so don’t have to take the resources away.”

The Prince George Fire Centre has responded to 62 fires so far since April 1 with 4402 hectares burned and two fires are currently active.    

Thunderstorms are expected to begin late this afternoon and evening and areas of concern are the Cariboo, including Williams Lake, Quesnel, Prince George, McGregor, Yellowhead area including McBride, Williston including Mackenzie.

Main threats include wind gusts of 90km/h, pea to nickel-sized hail and localized heavy downpours.

To report a wildfire, call 1-800-663-555 or *555 and visit weather.gc.ca for storm updates.