Fire hazard remains extreme 

Despite rain, cooler temperatures caution urged

The regional fire hazard dipped from Extreme to High for just one day before going back to Extreme last week, where things are expected to stay through the long weekend.

That means no open fires, no barbecues in public parks, and restrictions on construction activities in the interface forest anywhere in the Coastal Fire Centre.

Still, there is some good news around the province. Some rain preceded a thunderstorm that passed through the southern regions and interior of the province this past weekend, resulting in only a handful of small fires. As well, the larger fires in the province – including a wildfire that prompted evacuations on Galiano Island, and a 15-hectare blaze in Skookumchuk – were brought under control.

But while temperatures are cooling in Whistler, Fire Chief Bruce Hall warns that the risk is at least as high as it was during the heat wave.

"It went back up to extreme (Monday) afternoon," he said. "It really didn’t take long at all. The two major factors we’re concerned about is the wind and the fact that we haven’t had any rain to speak of. We’re in five (one is the lowest fire hazard rating) and we are expected to stay there. It’s extremely dry out there."

Hall says it will take significant rain to have any impact on the hazard rating, and with no rain in the forecast people should know to take special care. He says there’s a risk that people will assume that the fire hazard is lower with cooler temperatures and a little rain.

All construction crews are so far complying with the fire restrictions, and the public has been mostly responsive as well.

There have been a few incidents. In the last 10 days Hall estimates they have responded to four or five open fires that were left unattended.

"Luckily we got there quickly and the fires didn’t spread," he said.

Hall says they have responded to fewer calls on average, which could mean that the people are starting to get the message about forest fires.

"We’re still getting the occasional campfire left by people – and people aren’t supposed to have open fires – but on brush fires it’s been nice and quiet. I think people are taking heed of how dry it is in the forest, and acting accordingly," he said.

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