BY BILL PHILLIPS
The rain over the weekend was certainly welcomed by fire crews battling a myriad of wildfires across the province, but more is needed.
“We have had a sprinkling of rain, that’s certainly welcome, but by no means did the rain do much to put a dent in the fire season,” said Kevin Skrepnek, provincial fire information officer, during his daily media briefing Monday. “We going to see conditions rebound quickly.”
For many parts of the parts of the province, fire officials don’t expect any further rain this week. The forecast is for light winds, for the most parts, but locally gusty.
Gusty winds fanned the flames over the weekend as the Hanceville/Riske Creek fire became the largest fire currently burning at 198,894 hectares. The Elephant Hill fire also remains sizeable at 168,000 hectares burned.
As of yesterday, there were 162 wildfires burning across the province, 15 of which started Sunday. The vast majority of those were lightning caused.
Since April 1, there have been 1,012 fires across the province, burning 729,000 hectares of land. To put that in perspective, Skrepnek says, Greater Vancouver is about 288,000 hectares and Prince Edward Island is about 566,000 hectares.
This year is, for now, the second worst year in terms of area burned. The worst was 1958, when had 855,000 hectares burned.
The cost of fighting the fires sits at $292.6 million spent since April 1. Almost 4,000 firefighters and support staff, including 800 out of province and 1,500 contractors, are battling the blazes..
“We do want people to remain vigilant, we do have a number of restrictions in place,” said Skrepnek. “We are seeing an increase in lightning caused fires, so we’re trying to anything we can to prevent human-caused fires.”