Fire Season Summary
The month of July was hotter and drier than normal throughout most of British Columbia. A strong and persistent ridge of high pressure delivered the hottest conditions seen this season along with below normal precipitation. The prolonged hot and dry spell steadily cured fuels and increased fire danger across the province through the latter half of July. The exception being East Vancouver Island, and the North Coast from Bella Coola to Terrace which received 130-140 per cent of normal rainfall.
Lightning and gusty winds are typically associated with ridge breakdowns. During the last week of July there were over 35,000 lightning strokes recorded in the northeast and southern interior. Seventy four per cent of the 121 new fire starts that occurred between July 26 and August 1 were lightning caused. Strong winds aligned with terrain resulted in fast spreading fires and aggressive fire behavior. While the hot dry spell and increased fire activity is typical for late July and early August, the 22,000 hectares of area burned to date is well below the 20-year average of 113,976 hectares.
Watch Neal McLoughlin, superintendent of predictive services for the BC Wildfire Service deliver a presentation on the outlook for August.
The latest monthly forecasts signal above normal temperatures will likely persist across much of B.C. through mid-September. Near normal precipitation amounts are expected across the province. However, confidence in long-range precipitation forecasts is generally low. The signal for above average temperatures weakens as we look toward October, indicating near-normal temperatures are more likely as we head into fall.
Elevated fire danger and fire activity will shift from the northern half of the province to the south through the month of August. A similar number of fire starts are anticipated through August as was observed in the latter half of July when periods of warm weather broke down and resulted in lightning and gusty winds. Large fires that started in July will remain active into August. Additional fire growth can be expected during hot, dry, and windy conditions. Intermittent periods of cooler temperatures, higher humidity values, and rain will be favorable for ongoing fire suppression efforts and successful initial attack on new fire starts.
Statistics to Date
Wildfire Season April 1, 2022-current
Wildfire detection methods
Detecting wildfires early is critical for success. The BC Wildfire Service detects wildfires using a variety of methods.
The biggest asset for detecting new fires in B.C. is is the public. Approximately 40% of wildfires in B.C. are reported by the general public.
If you report by phone or through the app you’ll be asked the following questions to gather more information:
- Location: Where is the fire? How far up the hillside? Closest intersection?
- Size: Metres? Hectares? Size of a house? Size of a football field?
- Rate of spread: How quickly is the fire spreading?
- Fuel: What is burning? Grass, bushes, trees?
- Smoke/flames: What colour is the smoke? Are flames visible?
- Threat: Are there any people or buildings at risk?
- Action: Is anyone fighting the fire?
- Campfires: If reporting a campfire, can you tell if it is wood burning or is it a propane campfire?
Once complete, the report will be sent directly to the regional fire centre.
Other detection methods
Some regions of the province are less populated. This means that fires may not be detected immediately by the general public.
We detect fires in more remote areas using methods such as:
- Air patrols (both fixed-wing aircraft and helicopters)
- Fire Warden ground patrols
- Infrared technology
- Computer technology and predictive software
- Lookout towers
We are thrilled the new Report a Wildfire feature on our mobile app is being used!
When we receive a report with a photo it allows for an almost immediate behaviour assessment and in many cases narrows the location down to a very small area.