BY BILL PHILLIPS
Cooler, wetter weather has prompted the B.C. Wildfire Service to lift a couple of restrictions in the province’s forests.
The campfire ban has been lifted in the Prince George Fire Centre area, with the exception of the Vanderhoof Forest District.
In addition, the backcountry is open again in certain parts of the Cariboo.
“The Cariboo backcountry closure will be rescinded this afternoon,” said Kevin Skrepnek, provincial fire information officer, adding there will be a buffer zone around active fires that will remain closed.
The ban was imposed August 11.
Skrepnek said while the backcountry will be open for recreational use, off-road vehicle will not be allowed.
“The off-road vehicle ban will remain in place,” he said, adding backcountry closure was the first since 2003.
As of today, there are 138 fires burning in the province, with five new fires yesterday. Since April 1 there have been 1,076 fires that have scorched just over one million hectares of land.
“This is certainly B.C.’s record season in terms of area burned,” said Skrepnek.
The cost to fight the fires is now at $370.5 million.
The Plateau complex fire west of Quesnel has also set a record.
“The Plateau complex is largest fire in the province’s history at 467,000 hectares,” said Skrepnek. “It’s still burning actively in many areas, but hasn’t spread.”
The BC Wildfire Service is attacking that fire on two fronts … north out of Quesnel and south out of Puntzi Lake.
The Hanceville/Riske Creek fire sits at 230,000 hectares, but hasn’t grown in the past day.
Firefighters continue to keep their eye on the weather.
“We expect the next few days to be fairly active,” said Skrepnek. “There will be gusty winds this evening, and will see some thundershowers for Cariboo and Prince George area. It does look like the system will come with rain, but it will be scattered. The wind that this is going to bring is a concern.”