Forest fire risk high, very high across northern B.C.

The risk of wildfires across much of northern B.C. is high to very high, according to data from Natural Resources Canada.

Richard Carr, a wildland fire research analyst with the national Northern Forestry Centre in Edmonton, said similar conditions are being seen all across Western Canada.

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"Over the last couple weeks, northern British Columbia has been a bit dry," Carr said. "If it continues into June or July, you're set up for potential trouble. In 2017-2018 we had similar conditions..."

The centre compiles the data from two different computer models, and then compares it to last 30 years of records, he said. The centre also looks at data coming from the U.S., to get bigger picture view of what's happening in North America.

"I think we're looking at fairly dry conditions through the northern parts of the province," Carr said. "(But) it's a tough thing to forecast. One (computer model) is predicting fairly dry conditions."

While dry conditions allow wildfires to spread faster and burn hotter, it doesn't mean there will necessarily be a bad fire season, he said.

"We don't panic when we see these weather conditions. The ignitions are the important features," Carr said. "(And) chances are it's not going to be completely widespread through that area. It looks to be more of a muddled pattern."

People and lightning are the two main causes of wildfires. With the COVID-19 pandemic,  there may be fewer people out in the landscape casing fires, Carr said.

"This year, every year really, we are urging people to stay alert to changing fire conditions," he said.

Currently there is a province-wide ban on open burning, however camp fires and forest use remain unrestricted.

For the most current information, go online to: http://bcfireinfo.for.gov.bc.ca/hprScripts/WildfireNews/Bans.asp.

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