Rain helps Prince George fire crews

John Iverson wasn't exactly singing in the rain but after a two-hour soaking and lower temperatures Sunday afternoon, the Prince George Fire Rescue chief was certainly relieved the weather was cooperating with efforts to douse a series of small forest fires in and around the city.

Friday's dry lightning strikes sparked about 18 small fires within a half-hour drive of the city, a couple of which required the assistance of air support, but none of those fires turned into the devastating monsters now plaguing several areas south of Prince George.

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"With Friday's storm activity we did see a bit of a spike in calls but it was nothing we couldn't handle with our staff and equipment," said Iverson. "We did have assistance from the Ministry of Forests wildfire folks and everything was well looked after."

Three fires were reported Friday on the edge of the city limits near Otway Nordic Centre, in addition to fires near Boundary Road, Cottonwood Island Park and on Crown land near the Pidherny recreation area.

"That (Otway fire) was the largest one, there was some problem with fires in trees," said Iverson. "We had fallers on staff who brought some trees down and we extinguished them once we dropped them. I think the ministry brought in a helicopter to do some bucketing on the Otway fire."

Iverson said the cooler weather and rain, as brief as it was, came at good time.

"Every little bit helps," he said. "The rain helps and bringing the temperatures down from the 30s into the 20s gives us a break as well. We're in relatively shape compared to the rest of the province."

While the Prince George area has experienced the same hot and dry weather the past two weeks to that of the Cariboo region, Iverson said forest conditions are much different in the two regions, which bodes well for the city.

"The fuel load in the trees we have around Prince George is quite different and there's different vegetation on the ground so we really don't compare well with them," said Iverson. "We have a lot of deciduous trees and the risk with them is much less than what you're seeing elsewhere in the province. the coniferous trees burn so much differently than the deciduous ones and that works well for us."

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